ANANTNAG: A youth was killed after government forces fired on the people who were protesting over the death of two militants in an encounter in Chingam village of southern Kulgam district.
The encounter between the militants and forces started Thursday afternoon after the latter cordoned off the area. Late Thursday, the army said all the trapped militants had been killed. However, on Friday morning, as the forces approached towards the debris of the house to retrieve the bodies of the militants they came under fire, triggering a fresh gunfight. The encounter ended at around 11 am with the killing of two militants of Lashker-e-Toiba outfit. They were identified as Mohammad Abbas Malla of Nowpora and Manzoor Ahmad Malik of Chingam.
Locals said that forces blasted the house where the militants were holed up, reducing it to rubble. “Due to the blast at least three other neighbouring houses also suffered heavy damages,” the locals said.
As the encounter ended and the news about the death of two militants spread in the area, people from Chinigam and its neighbouring villages who had assembled near the encounter site staged protests.
The protesters also resorted to stone pelting at the forces that were part of the operation. The forces opened fire on them, resulting in critical injuries to one youth, identified as Tariq Ahmad Bhat. He later succumbed on way to hospital. Tariq, 18, was the cousin of one of the slain militants, Mohammad Abbas Malla.
“The youth was brought dead to the hospital at around 11:30 am. He had received bullets in the chest,” medical superintendent of sub-district hospital Bijbehara told Kashmir Reader.
Though the locals accused the army men of opening fire on the protesters, police said Tariq was killed “in an exchange of fire.”
“After the encounter ended and the bodies of the militants were retrieved, fresh firing started. Forces retaliated the firing and in the exchange of fire a civilian got killed. In the fresh firing two army men and one CRPF man were also critically injured,” DIG south Kashmir, Alok Kumar told Kashmir Reader.
Kumar said the slain militants were “most wanted for security agencies.”
Meanwhile, the two slain militants and the civilian were buried in their native villages amid pro-freedom protests, reports said.