Ganderbal: There was some confusion as to the sequence of events after government forces cordoned off Khimber area in Wanihama locality in Ganderbal on Wednesday, but some militants reportedly managed to escape from the area.
Acting on information regarding the presence of militants, army and Special Operations Group (SOG) of police cordoned off Khimber, near Hazratbal. The militants opened fire on the search party, triggering a brief exchange of gunfire, official sources said. They said the militants managed to break the cordon and escape. However, no one was injured in the firing.
An AK 47 rifle was recovered from the area after government forces conducted searches in the adjoining villages to try and nab the militants.
However, civilians were allegedly used as human shields by the army as the troops were searching for militants. Reports said army and SOG personnel cordoned the house of Ghulam Rasool Mir in Wanihama. The troops reportedly opened indiscriminate aerial fire, creating panic in the area. When the firing stopped, people came out of their houses and protested the ‘unwarranted action’ of the troops. In retaliation, SOG and army men, according to locals, thrashed many people and also ransacked a provision store.
Amid the chaos army men caught hold of a person, Ishfaq Kambay, and forced him to enter a house where they suspected the militants were hiding. However, they did not find anyone inside the house.
“Army caught hold of me and sent me to search the house. I was frightened. As I moved into the kitchen, I found the family sitting in one room. Army let me go when they were satisfied with the search,” said Kambay. But troops reportedly ransacked the house and also broke the window panes of adjoining houses.
In the same area, locals were forced to evacuate children who were stuck in a school when the search operation was going on. “Many children were stuck inside the school near the site where firing took place. Anything could have happened if militants had been present in the area,” said a local resident. Instead of evacuating the children, the troops forced civilians to do the job, he added.