Local militant among two killed in 16-hour gunfight; bullets, pellets ‘fired at’ protestors
Shopian: A young woman who had a nine-month-old daughter was killed in what police described as “cross-fire” but people said were bullets fired by government forces at protestors near the encounter site in Shopian’s Batmaran-Wanpora village where two militants, one of them a local of the village, were killed during a 16-hour-long gun battle that began Monday night. Government forces made use of strong explosives to blast four residential houses and three cowsheds during the gunfight. An army soldier and a policeman of the special operations group (SOG) also sustained bullet injury.
The slain militants were identified as Tanveer Ahmad Bhat aka Nouman Bhai, resident of Batmaran-Wanpora, and a Pakistani militant, Ali Bhai.
The brother of the slain woman—Beauty Jan—told Kashmir Reader that she was married three years ago and had a nine-month-old infant daughter. He said that she was hit by a bullet when she was standing in her room. The house of Abdul Rasheed Pir, the father of the slain woman, is some 150 meters from the encounter site.
About three dozen civilians were injured in clashes with government forces near the encounter site. Medical Superintendent of Pulwama District Hospital, Abdul Rasheed Para, told Kashmir Reader that “24 injured persons were brought to the hospital among whom 11 were referred to Srinagar hospitals. Among the referred persons, four had firearm injuries and seven had pellet injuries.”
Medical Superintendent of Shopian District Hospital, Dr Shafat, said that “two persons were brought to the hospital, among them a lady who had bullet injury in her abdomen, and another person who had pellet injury in his left eye. Both of them were referred to Srinagar.”
Locals said that most of the persons were injured when forces were leaving the village after the encounter was over. “They started indiscriminate firing on civilians, fired pellets and tear smoke canisters,” a civilian who was himself injured by pellets told Kashmir Reader.
Ghulam Muhammad, a resident of Wathoo village, said that the villagers had not seen such heavy use of arms and ammunitions in any encounter in the area. “It was like the whole area was shaking with the massive IEDs used by the forces to raze down the houses,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, South Kashmir, SP Pani told Kashmir Reader that both the slain militants were involved in the recent killing of two JK Bank guards.
“Three civilians, one policeman, and one solider have bullet injury and they are stable. Six more civilians have pellet injuries and they, too, are stable and under treatment. Unfortunately, a lady was killed in cross firing during the encounter,” Pani said.
When asked about the cause of death of the slain woman, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Shopian, SA Dinkar said that militants fired upon security forces from “the protesters’ side” and “probably she was killed in cross firing.”
“Besides that, we are ascertaining the facts regarding the killing of the lady,” he said.
When asked about the large number of injuries to civilians during the encounter, he said, “We cordoned the area based on inputs of presence of three militants and we found only two. The huge stone-pelting, protests, and the militants firing from the protesters’ side was the reason for the number of injuries.”
The slain local militant, Tanveer Ahmad Bhat, was laid to rest amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans in Batmaran-Wanpora village. At least four rounds of funeral prayers were offered by more than eight-thousand mourners who came from the adjoining districts of Shopian and Pulwama. Family sources said that Tanveer was 21 years old and had studied till matric level (Class 10).
Emotional scenes were also witnessed during the funeral of the slain woman at the same graveyard. The gathered people also joined in her funeral prayers and at least four rounds of prayers were held before she was buried.
SSP Shopian SA Dinkar said that Tanveer was active as a militant since December 2016. He added that Tanveer was a Category-B militant. “They (the two slain militants) were involved in different militancy-related activities, like they recently killed two innocent bank guards at Kralcheck-Poju after attacking the bank’s cash-carrying vehicle. They were also threatening people in the area,” Dinkar said.
He added that one militant succeeded in fleeing from the site. “Police made announcements to Tanveer to surrender. One of his family members wished to help make Tanveer surrender. That took us more time in concluding the operation,” Dinkar said.