ANANTNAG: After militants escaped an army cordon in Wularhama village of Pahalgam on Thursday, the soldiers beat up local youth on their way back, residents of Wularhama told Kashmir Reader. They said that protests and clashes broke out against the soldiers and troops fired teargas shells to quell the protests. Shopkeepers in the region downed their shutters in protest and traffic went off the roads during the day.
The army laid a cordon around Hardkaethal locality of Wularhama early Thursday morning. Locals told KR that when the siege was being laid, the hiding militants came out and fled through the orchards and fields. The soldiers chased the militants and heavy gunfire was heard by local residents for half an hour.
“We heard the firing shots for at least half an hour. The firing was so heavy that we thought an encounter had begun. As we reside in another locality, the forces did not allow us to move towards the locality that was under cordon,” said a local.
Later, locals said, army men while moving back from the village beat up some youth, triggering massive protests and clashes in the area.
“The army men after failing to locate the militants gave vent to their anger on some local youth, abusing and thrashing them,” a local told Kashmir Reader.
After the army action, people including youth and women came out of their houses and held protests. The forces resorted to tearsmoke shelling to disperse the protesting youth. A shutdown was observed in the village the entire day in protest against the soldiers. Shopkeepers in all the neighbouring areas, including Srigufwara, Kanelwon and Sallar, lowered their shutters and traffic disappeared from the roads. Normal life resumed after the news that militants had escaped the army cordon.
Army’s Srinagar-based defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia didn’t respond to repeated calls.