Nearly twenty protestors were badly left wounded when the government forces again resorted to firing pellets at the protestors that had gathered to disrupt a search and cordon operation of the forces in a village of southern Kashmir in Shopian.
The villagers came out of their houses in Heff and Shirmal as the word went round that the forces had come into the area, to search their houses, looking for militants. The area is home to about five active militants and the villagers wanted to make sure the militants, if any, were safe from the clutches of the forces.
The protestors, raising pro-freedom slogans, threw rocks at the forces in the Heff village to prevent them from conducting house-to-house search of the houses. It wasn’t the first time that the forces had to face the resistance from the villagers. It has become a common occurrence now for the forces to have to confront a large crowd of angry stone throwing protestors.
On Wednesday morning troopers slipped into the villages with the information that some militants were hiding there and as soon as the word went around the villagers came out to confront them. Many villagers said the forces ransacked their houses in the Heff village and beat many villagers, too. At least twenty protestors were taken to the local hospital, in Zainapora, for the treatment of wounds inflicted by pellets, eyewitnesses said.
Recounting how forces beat at least sixty people during the search of homes, a villager said: “Forces thrashed young and old including girls.” According to villagers the forces gave a beating to the family members of Sadam Paddar, a militant active in the area.
“Army personnel ransacked dozens of residential houses during the operation and damaged properties,” said another villager. He said two youngsters Mairaj Ahmad Ganai and Khushal Hamid were also arrested by the forces. When the forces retreated from the villages, and driving back to their base camps, they again became a target of the anger of pro-freedom protestors at the Achan village of Pulwama, many miles. The protestors hurled rocks at the convoy of vehicles. The forces hit back, firing tear-smoke shells at them, sparking more clashes in the area. Tension in the entire area continued to be high as people began taking stock of the injuries suffered by the protestors in today’s violent clashes with the government forces.