Elderly woman killed in crossfire, say police; locals say forces targeted her house; Major critical and Lt Colonel and soldier injured; vehicles, houses vandalised by forces; CM condemns killings
By Raashid Hassan
Shopian: Three soldiers were killed and three others injured in an ambush by Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Mulu, Chitragam village of Shopian district on early Thursday morning.
A team of soldiers from 44 RR battalion of army and police was returning from a search operation in Kungnoo village in Shopian at about 2 am, when one of their vehicles came under fire from militant(s), killing three soldiers—one of them a Kashmiri, Lance Naik from Bijbehara—and injuring three others, one of them a Lt Colonel.
Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack.
An elderly woman, Jana, wife of Ghulam Ahmad Mir of Chitragam, who according to police was hit by a stray bullet inside her house, also was killed during the incident.
The critically injured Major Amardeep Singh was operated upon at army base hospital. The rest of the injured are stable.
However, her family said Jana (70), a mother of seven, was killed when forces indiscriminately at their house.
“We wonder how we are still alive as inside walls of our rooms have bullet marks. They tried to kill us all but it was God’s mercy on us who saved us,” said Muhammad Hussain, Jana’s son.
“She tried to run away from her second story room after she heard screams of a man who was probably on the road and calling for help. She was hit probably five minutes after the gunfire started,” Hussain said.
“After I saw my dead mother I told security forces why you killed my mother? They said ‘stop shouting or we will kill you too,’” Hussain added.
Jana Begum, locals said, was a “spiritual lady” who had participated in funerals of many militants.
Bashir Ahmad Wani, a relative of Jana’s, told Kashmir Reader, “Achieving martyrdom was her wish. She was my first school and often taught the local youth about the consequences of occupation and how we can achieve freedom. She was very pious and never missed prayers.”
Residents of Chitragam, Mulu and Trenz accused army of ransacking their properties and arresting four civilians— Bashir Ahmad Wani and Majid Ahmad Ganai of Mullu and Mohammad Ayoub Mir and Shaheen Ahmad of Chittragam— after the ambush.
“They broke windscreens and glass of dozens of parked vehicles and window panes of about 30 houses in Mulu Chitragam, Trenz. Glass panes of Jammu Kashmir Bank at Trenz were also smashed,” locals told Kashmir Reader.
Mehbooba condemns attack
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the killing of the three soldiers. She said “violence has never been and could never be a means to address issues”.
“She said the unending cycle of violence in the state has brought untold miseries to the people and collective efforts are needed to get the state out of the morass of death and destruction,” an official spokesman quoted her as saying.
Mehbooba Mufti also expressed deep grief and anguish over the death of a civilian in the incident. She conveyed her sympathies with the bereaved families of the soldiers and the civilian.