SRINAGAR: Many find it difficult to recall when a gunfight last occurred at Nowhatta—the hub of anti-India protests and stone-pelting battles—where two militants were killed on the morning of India’s Independence Day on Monday after a five-hour-long gunfight with police and CRPF.
A CRPF officer was also killed and eight other personnel were injured in the shootout.
The gunfight started at 8.15am when the forces were being deployed in the area to enforce curfew, which is a norm on India’s Independence Day and Republic Day.
The two militants appeared on the road and fired at CRPF troopers and policemen, killing Pramod Kumar, commanding officer of 49 CRPF battalion. Five CRPF troopers and three policemen were injured in the shootout. Of the injured, two CRPF troopers and one policeman are critical.
The militants then entered a building, Kawoosa House, which had been a CRPF camp until 2005, and exchanged fire with troopers intermittently. The forces lobbed grenades into the building, killing the duo whose identity has not been ascertained yet. Kashmir inspector general of police SJM Gilani said the militants “looked like non-locals”.
Gilani said the deceased militants wanted to “hog headlines” and “wanted to take more time to seek media attention”.
“But we shot them dead without damaging the building,” Gilani told reporters after the gunfight was over. Two AK-47 rifles and 8 magazines were recovered from them, he said.
This is the first major militant attack in old Srinagar city since a top militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Mufti Hilal of Palhalan, Pattan, was killed in old city’s Fateh Kadal a few years ago.
Before that, militants made an assassination bid on former minister Ali Mohammad Sagar’s five-years ago, killing his security guard, in Nawab Bazar area.
A senior police official said today’s attack shows the militants have been “emboldened” because of the public support for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing last month triggered the raging anti-India uprising in which government forces have killed 59 people and injured about 5000 so far.
“In spite of huge deployment on August 15 the militants carried out the attack, which only reflects they can strike at their own will,” the official said.