Identity of the man being ascertained, say police, locals demand body and pelt forces with stones; troops raid several Baramulla areas, fire pellets at youth and take him away to undisclosed location
Srinagar: Clashes erupted in north Kashmir’s Bandipora area after the army claimed to have killed an unidentified militant in an encounter at Chapran Argam village on Thursday. Local sources said that villagers staged massive protests in front of an army camp to claim the body of the slain militant. Police said the body was sent to Uri for burial after conducting a post-mortem.
One critically injured protester was shifted to Srinagar for treatment.
Sources said that a group of militants clashed with a patrolling party of government forces late on Wednesday evening. Following the contact, the village was cordoned off but the search operation was delayed till the morning.
Locals said that the government forces opened fire on a residential house belonging to one Sher Jan where militants were suspected to be hiding. Later, a body was recovered from the house.
Shortly after news spread that a militant had been killed, a large number of people, including women, assembled outside the local army camp. The government forces fired tear-smoke shells as protesters pelted stones while demanding body of the slain militant for burial. The clashes left more than 12 people wounded. Witnesses said that one of the youth suffered multiple pellet injuries and was shifted to SMHS hospital Srinagar for treatment.
In a statement to the press, police said that following specific information about the presence of militants in Chapran, Bandipora, police and government forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.
“The cordon and search operation turned into an encounter when the search party was fired at. In the retaliatory fire one militant was killed whose identity is being ascertained,” police said.
The statement said that soon after the encounter, about 150 “miscreants” assembled and pelted stones on police and government troops. “To chase them away, the security forces used some force which caused injuries to a few miscreants,” the statement said.
Elsewhere in the Valley, the government imposed strict restrictions on people’s movement to block the ‘Islamabad Chalo’ march called by the pro-freedom leadership of Kashmir.
All the entry and exit points of Anantnag district were sealed off with razor wires and heavy deployments of CRPF and police were made to prevent people from marching towards the south Kashmir district.
Public protests and clashes between youths and government forces continued to take place on the 76th day of the public uprising. Several civilians were injured by government troops.
More than 15 people sustained injuries after government forces raided Bungalow Bagh, Arampora and Azad Gunj areas of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Witnesses said that forces barged into homes in these areas and ransacked household goods. Residents said that troops also beat up inmates.
“They smashed whoever and whatever came in their way. Many people were injured in our area,” a resident of Azad Gunj said. The injured were taken to nearby health facilities, he said.
Residents said that troops also damaged four more power transformers in these areas by firing bullets at them. People in several places in Baramulla were seen erecting sandbags around transformers to protect them.
Sources said that a person identified as Fayaz Ahmad, resident of Khanpora, was seriously injured by forces after being hit with a volley of pellets and was arrested. He was taken to an unknown destination by police.
In Srinagar, clashes broke out between youths and government forces at Fateh Kadal area where youths pelted forces with stones and the latter lobbed tear smoke canisters and fired pellets at them. A few people sustained injuries during the clashes.
Youth also hurled stones near Habba Kadal and Chattabal areas at troops. They came under heavy teargas shelling by the troops. The clashes lasted for several hours and a few youths sustained minor injuries.
Media persons who had gone to mini-stadium Kulgam to cover a recruitment drive for special police officers (SPO) were allegedly misbehaved with by SPO candidates who also abused some journalists. The candidates told media persons to not click their photographs.
Later, when candidates returned to their homes, scores of people hurled stones at them near Kulgam Chowk. Clashes broke out in the area after forces fired dozens of teargas shells and pellets to disperse the stone-throwing people while local youth pelted them with rocks.
Protests were held later in the evening at Kulgam Chowk against the recruitment drive for SPOs, which is being carried out across south Kashmir.
Amid a complete shutdown and restrictions on movement of vehicles, clashes erupted at Reban area of Shopian district where youths engaged forces in pitched battles after the latter raided the area to arrest a pro-freedom activist named Sartaj Barkati.
Announcements were made on public address systems asking people to come out of their houses and resist the raid.
A youth from Saderkoot area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district was seriously injured after he was allegedly assaulted by a CRPF man. The youth sustained injuries in his back and was later rushed to district hospital Bandipora.
A scheduled pro-freedom rally-cum-seminar at Sanat Nagar in Srinagar was foiled by forces. People were disallowed to go further when they reached Barzulla by government troops blocking the path. The people later protested against the restrictions and troops fired tear smoke canisters to scatter them.
Police arrested an elderly person, Ghulam Hassan Sheikh, 70, resident of Deva Colony Janglatmandi in Anantnag town, from his house. Sources said police were looking for his son Aatif Hassan. People in the area have been accusing police of arresting relatives of youth that the police are looking for.
According to police, the overall situation remained under control across the Kashmir valley.
“There was no curfew in the valley except in town Anantnag and the areas falling under three police stations of Srinagar city,” the police statement said.
It said that 57 individuals found involved in “creating disruption in traffic movement, opening of shops as also damaging public/private property” were arrested in the past 24 hours.
In another separate statement, police said that the situation across Jammu region remained normal and there was no report of any untoward incident.