Grenade explodes near bus stand; locals say police fired pellets at crowd, SP says injuries due to grenade splinters
Anantnag: A teenage Sikh girl and a 70-year-old Muslim resident of Tral were killed in a grenade attack on senior PDP minister Naeem Akhtar’s motorcade when it was passing by the bus stand in Tral town on Thursday.
The Superintendent Engineer (SE) of the Roads & Buildings (R&B) department, Showket Ahmad, seven CRPF men, and two policemen were injured in the grenade attack, along with many civilians.
Government forces allegedly fired pellets upon the civilian crowd after the grenade attack. A list prepared by the Block Medical Officer (BMO) of Tral said that at least 26 persons, including a constable, had “pellet injury”. The police said that the injuries were not from pellets, because no pellets were fired, but from splinters of the exploded grenade.
The BMO Tral said that the exact nature of the injuries would be determined at Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital, where 8 injured were referred to.
Akhtar, Minister for R&B, escaped the attack unhurt. Soon after the attack, he wrote on his Twitter handle: “Survived an attack on my motorcade in Tral”. He further wrote that he felt sad for the lives lost.
The killed civilians were identified as 18-year-old Pinky Kaur, daughter of Ishpal Singh and resident of Chattergam village in Tral, and 70-year-old Ghulam Nabi Trag, son of Lassa Joo, resident of main town Tral.
“Both of them were brought dead to the hospital,” BMO Tral, GS Mehta, told Kashmir Reader.
According to sources, the minister’s cavalcade was moving from Chandergam village on the outskirts of Tral to Aripal village, after inaugurating a project of the R&B department.
A grenade was hurled by militants at the cavalcade at the Tral bus stand. It exploded on the roadside, injuring many civilians including at least two women.
“21 civilians have been injured in the attack. Seven CRPF personnel and two policemen were also injured,” Superintendent of Police Awantipora, Zahid Malik, said while talking to Kashmir Reader.
The injured were rushed to Sub-District Hospital Tral, where chaos prevailed as the number of injured kept swelling every minute.
“Eight of the injured have been shifted to SMHS hospital in Srinagar and I am told all of them are stable thus far,” the BMO Tral said.
He said that the rest of the injured have been discharged from the sub-district hospital (SDH), except four who still remain under observation.
“They, too, will be discharged soon,” Mehta said.
Spokesperson of the CRPF, Rajesh Yadav, confirmed that 7 of their men were injured in the attack. “Seven people, including the Unit-2 IC, have been injured. Four are being treated at army’s 92 Base Hospital and the rest at the Unit MI room,” Yadav told Kashmir Reader.
What followed the grenade attack has conflicting versions from different sources, and none of the versions could be independently verified by this newspaper.
Local sources in Tral said that government forces deputed for the security of the minister fired pellets, indiscriminately, soon after the grenade exploded, at people who were running for their lives.
The sources said that locals later held protests at the premises of SDH Tral against the “indiscriminate firing”, and raised pro-freedom and anti-police slogans.
“A grenade exploded and what followed was mayhem. The forces personnel fired indiscriminate pellets at the people who were running to save their lives. Most of the people have been injured by that,” locals told Reader.
The Awantipora SP refuted these allegations. “No pellet guns were used at the spot because there were no pellet guns available. These are baseless allegations,” Malik said. “The new hand grenades used by the militants have pellets embedded in them,” he said.
Malik said that most of the injured have splinter injuries from the hand-grenade explosion.