ANANTNAG: Two militants were killed in a gunbattle that raged between a group of militants and government forces in open fields near Wandakhpora village in southern Pulwama district.
Government forces, including the army, Special Operations Group of police and CRPF laid a siege around the village after receiving information about the presence of a group of militants. As the cordon was being laid, police officials said, the militants in an attempt to break the siege opened fire at the forces and managed to escape towards mustard fields, where they were trapped again.
In the ensuing gunbattle, which continued for nearly an hour, two militants were killed while their associates managed to escape.
DIG south Kashmir, Nitish Kumar, identified one of the militants as Ukasha, a Pakistani national. “His other associate is yet to be identified,” he told Kashmir Reader. Asked whether the militants were holding a meeting in the area, the DIG said, “We don’t know that. We received the information about their presence and laid a cordon.”
Witnesses said that as the gunfight was going on, youths from adjoining villages, ignoring the advisory by the authorities to stay away from encounter sites, assembled and resorted to heavy stone throwing at the forces, who responded with tear gas. This was another instance – repeatedly witnessed in recent times – of people gathering, protesting and pelting stones during encounters in order to help the militants escape.
The CRPF men, after facing stone-pelting from the youth, also allegedly abused photojournalists, who were discharging their professional duty. “Infuriated by stone throwing by the youth, CRPF men abused and pushed our colleagues. They accused us of provoking the youth,” a photojournalist, Qayoom Khan, told Kashmir Reader.