PULWAMA: Two people, including a woman, were wounded and an OGW arrested in a shootout at the bus stand in Pulwama town on Friday afternoon, according to the police.
The injured, identified as Riyaz Ahmad Teli and Rehti Begum, were taken to the district hospital Pulwama, from where Rehti was referred to the Bone and Joint hospital, Srinagar, for further treatment.
Official sources said that after receiving information about the presence of militants at a bus stand in Pulwama, SOG 182 Battalion and the CRPF launched a joint search operation.
However, when the government forces surrounded a vehicle and asked the ‘militants inside it to surrender’, the latter fired at them. Even as people ran for cover, Teli and Rehti were injured in the exchange of fire.
Police also claimed to have arrested a burqa-clad OGW identified as Tariq Ahmad, resident of Drach Pulwama, who was allegedly carrying a “sharp-edged weapon”.
However, a local news agency later reported that locals as well as Tariq’s family refuted the police’s claims, saying Tariq was a mentally challenged person. “How can my son be a militant or even a militant sympathiser? He is mentally unfit. Every person is aware of this fact,” his father, Ghulam Mohidin reportedly said.
The report quoted Ghulam as saying that he heard the ‘shocking news’ of his son’s arrest hours after he left his home on Friday morning. “My son is being implicated in a false case. He is innocent,” he said. Tariq’s mother Sarwa Akhter said her son was working as a baker. However, around four months ago, she said, her son started behaving strangely.
“And as the days passed, he lost his mental balance. He would do weird things in and outside the house,” she said. Endorsing these statements, numbardar of the village, Mohammad Yousuf told the media agency that the arrested youth was ‘mentally retarded’ and would be seen “doping around the village” (sic).
“He was not even remotely connected with militancy. He is a wanderer,” Yousuf said.
Another family member reportedly said that a fortnight ago, Tariq stole a cow from the shed of a neighbour, only to return it a day later.
Meanwhile, SP Pulwama, Tejinder Singh told the media agency that Tariq was wearing a burqa and was with militants when he was arrested by the police. “He was aiming to snatch a weapon from the police. However, he was arrested,” Singh said.