7 slain in Lolab gunfight were militants, says govt

Jammu: Asserting that the seven killed in Lolab encounter in north Kashmir were confirmed to be militants, Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday said curfew was not imposed in the region, but preventive measures were taken to avoid law and order situation.
“Seven bodies were confirmed to be of militants who were operating in the forests of Lolab,” Minister of State for Home, Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo told Legislative Assembly here.
“After completing medico-legal formalities like post-mortem, photography, DNA sampling, the dead bodies were handed over to local Auquaf Committee of Lalpora, which also confirmed that none of the killed militants was a local and civilian,” he said, adding that the bodies were then buried in a local graveyard at Lalpora.
Kitchloo said a case was registered after the encounter at Lalpora police station on Monday, and post mortem was being conducted on Tuesday when people gathered outside the station and resorted to stone-pelting, injuring 21 policemen and damaging public and private property.
“Police exercised restraint to ensure civilians were not hurt while resorting to tear gas and smoke shells to disperse the mob which set bunkers at the station on fire,” he said.
“No curfew was imposed in Lolab, but only restriction under section 144 CrPC was imposed there as precautionary measure,” the Minister said.
Case under sections 307, 148,147, 149, 336, 436 RPC, section 3 of PTT Act (Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act) has been registered in Lalpora police station, he said.
The district administration of Kupwara has taken all possible measures to avoid any law and order situation and to ensure that peace is not disturbed and general public is not put to any inconvenience, Kitchloo said.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Assembly witnessed uproar on Wednesday after the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent legislator Engineer Rashid staged protests and a walkout over the “excessive use of force” by police against the people protesting killing of seven militants by the Army in Lolab.
As soon as proceedings in the House began, PDP MLA from Lolab, Abdul Haq Khan, stood up saying, “Police has completely mismanaged the situation in Lolab and used excessive force against the people who had come only to see and identify the dead bodies in the police station.”
Speaker Mubarak Gul tried to pacify Khan, saying he will take up the issue in the House after the question hour. “I have already asked the government to give statement on the issue. Let the question hour proceed and the issue will be taken up with the government again,” said Gul.
However, this did not satisfy Khan, who trooped into the well. “Dozens of people have been injured in police action and now they have been put under strict curfew. Let government be clear on it,” said Khan.
He was soon joined by Independent MLA from Langate constituency, Engineer Rashid who also stepped into the well and demanded a statement from the government.
The Speaker again tried to pacify them. “Let government collect the details from the ground to give a statement in the House.” But the agitating legislators staged a sit-in in the well raising anti-government slogans. They were later joined by other PDP legislators.
On this, the Law Minister Mir Saifullah said it was a serious issue and asked the Speaker to appeal PDP legislators to end their protest.
“Give us some time, Home Minister will give the statement on the issue,” said Saifullah.
However, the agitating legislators continued with their protests, prompting Sajad Kitchloo to speak on the issue.
Kitchloo’s statement, however, did not satisfy the agitating legislators who staged a walk out from the House.
“We are not satisfied with the government statement. The situation was totally mismanaged by the police. So we walk out from the House in protest,” said Khan.
Later talking to media outside the House, Khan said he does not question Army’s claim that the slain persons were foreign militants. “But I am against the excessive use of force by police against the protesters.” with PTI inputs