Pulwama: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were killed in a gunfight with government forces in Pulwama district on Tuesday, while a civilian protesting against their killing was shot dead by Border Security Force soldiers in the same district.
While the militants—Showkat Ahmad Lone of Lelhar and Gulzar Ahmad Bhat Showkeen of Talangam—were killed after a 20-hour-long gun battle in Ratnipora area, Bilal Ahmad Bhat was hit by a bullet after troopers fired at a procession of unarmed mourners who were demonstrating against the killing of the militants, in Malangpora (Awantipora).
Although Bhat was taken to SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, medical superintendent Dr Nazir Choudhary said he had been dead on arrival.
“He had received multiple bullet injuries in lower abdomen,” he said.
The gunfight had erupted on Monday evening. The militants, armed with AK-47 rifles, who had taken position in a paddy field, had engaged scores of heavily armed soldiers and policemen overnight. The gun battle ended on Tuesday afternoon after the forces allegedly set the field afire using gunpowder sprayed by an army chopper.
Like during the gunfight in neighbouring Kakapora a couple of days ago, the local residents pelted the government forces with stones, apparently to divert their attention from the gunfight and to help the besieged militants escape.
Thousands of mourners participated in the funeral procession of the militants, shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Showkat had joined militant ranks in 2013 and Gulzar, 46, a post-graduate in Science and father of two who had memorized half of the Quran, had picked up gun six months ago.
As soon as the news of the killings spread, protests broke out in Pulwama town, Kakapora, Samboora, Malangpora and Lelhara and Malangpora.
About 12 people were injured when the roof of a government school in Talangam village collapsed under the weight of mourners who wanted to catch the glimpse of the militants.
Deputy inspector general of police (south Kashmir) Nitesh Kumar said Gulzar was a released militant. He said the civilian was killed after BSF “came under heavy stone pelting”.
At Kashmir University, Nimaaz Jinaza was offered by hundreds of students in absentia for the two militants and the civilian.