SRINAGAR: Clashes erupted between government forces and youths after the former laid a cordon around Darsara village of Tral in southern Pulwama district on Wednesday evening.
The forces surrounded the village at around 7 pm after receiving information about the presence of two to three militants. However, as the government forces started searches, local youths, witnesses said, came out of their houses and resorted to intense stone throwing to try and help the militants, believed to be trapped, escape. The forces, witnesses said, lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the stone-throwing youth.
The forces, official sources said, also lobbed shells towards a residential house where they believed the militants are hiding, but there was no retaliation from the other side.
The clashes and sloganeering from public address systems of Masjids were going on till this report was being filed. Late reports also said firing between the militants and forces had started and that forces were also acting against people raising slogans and protesting at the site.
This comes in the backdrop of repeated instances of people, particularly youngsters, marching towards encounter sites even as gunbattles raged, to try and help the militants escape. The recent attack on the EDI building in Pampore also witnessed a similar phenomenon. Earlier, after the killings in Pulwama, the police had put out an advisory asking people living in a 2-km radius of encounter sites to remain inside their homes.
“The residents of nearby area within the radius of two kilometres should stay inside their homes and need not venture out as any stray bullet can hit and cause damage,” the police advisory said, adding, the residents should also avoid peeping out of windows during such times. The police statement said Section 144 immediately comes into force at an encounter site and around it.
“The elders, chowkidars and village headmen are requested to advise people to stay away from encounter site. Assembly of five or more people be discouraged as it is prohibited under the provisions of this section,” the advisory said.
Yet, as during the encounter in Pampore and now in Tral, strong protests by people in favour of militants have been witnessed.
Meanwhile, with regard to Wednesday evening’s events in Tral, many top police officials did not respond to repeated calls from Kashmir Reader.