Srinagar: The death of two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in a gunfight Thursday with government forces in Shopian district of south Kashmir sparked anti-India protests and clashes in which at least six people were injured, three of them critically.
At around 1 pm, several armoured vehicles carrying Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel and soldiers of Army’s 44 RR appeared at Gagloora village in Pinjora area of Shopian and instantly placed the village under siege, eyewitnesses said.
When the joint team started search operations in the village, three Hizb militants holed up in a residential house belonging Mukhtar Ahmed Malik opened volley of gunfire upon them to break the cordon. The forces returned the fire triggering a fierce gunfight. As the gunfight intensified, the militants kept on changing their positions, officials said.
In the exchange of fire that continued for over three hours, two militants were killed, officials said. They identified the slain as Shabir Ahmad Gujjar alias Barkat, of Bagla, Rajouri, and Irshad Ahmad of Zainpora, Shopian. However, the third militant managed to escape from the cordon.
When the word about the killing of the two militants spread in the village, hundreds of people came out and staged pro-freedom demonstrations. Chanting pro-azadi, pro-militants and anti-India slogans, the protesters tried to march towards the encounter site. However, the CRPF troopers and police , intercepted the protesters, the eyewitnesses said.
“The protesters hurled stones on the forces when they were prevented from visiting the encounter site. The forces burst teargas canisters and fired from pellet guns at the protesters. The pitched battles continued till late evening leaving at least six people injured,” Mohammad Arif, a local resident, told Kashmir Reader.
He said three of the injured—Mohammad Umar, Tariq Ahmad and Mohammad Ashraf—suffered pellet injuries in eyes. All the injured were removed to district hospital Shopian.
Medical Superintendent of the hospital Dr Ismail told Kashmir Reader that three youth, who had sustained pellet and teargas shell injuries, were referred to Srinagar.
“Besides them, we received three more people who had sustained minor injuries. They were treated by the doctors here,” Ismail added.
Meanwhile, a Srinagar-based spokesman of the Army said that two ‘hardcore’ militants of Hizb were killed in the encounter that raged after Army and SOG cordoned off the village on specific inputs.