SHOPIAN: For the past four consecutive Saturdays, Pulwama’s Tral and nearby area has seen four gunfights, during which 16 militants, 7 civilians, and one army soldier have been killed.
Locals have noted this correspondence with Saturday and are speculating if this is some special strategy of government forces, or some particular reason, for choosing this day.
On December 15, Saturday, people in Pulwama shouldered coffins of seven youths who were killed during clashes near a gunfight site in Sirnoo village. Three militants and one army soldier were killed in that gunfight. Some three dozen civilians were left injured in the clashes.
The next Saturday, on December 22, six militants were killed in Arampora village of Tral. Among them was Solaha Mohmmad Akhoon, a close associate of Zakir Musa and deputy chief of Musa’s outfit, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. Four of the six killed militants belonged to Dadsara village. Two among them, Umar Ramzan Mir and Rouf Ahmad Mir, were close friends Who dropped out of Class 10 to join militant ranks on the same day. They were killed fighting alongside and were buried alongside.
Saturday, December 29, saw four Jaish-e-Mohammad militants getting killed at Hajin Payeen village of Pulwama. About 30 civilians were injured in clashes that erupted near the gunfight site.
The end of the bloody year and the beginning of a new one made no difference to the pattern. The year’s first Saturday, January 5, saw a gunfight at a Tral village in which two houses were blown up with explosives. The hours-long exchange of gunfire ended without any casualty. The militants here, believed to be two in number, managed to escape from the site, but not before injuring a paramilitary soldier in the exchange of gunfire. This encounter took place only a day after three militants were killed by government forces in Gulshan Pora area of Tral town.
It is pertinent to mention here that 267 militants, 160 civilians, 159 armed forces’ personnel were killed last year in violence-related incidents in Jammu & Kashmir. Also, 31 residential houses were razed to the ground, while 94 structures were partially damaged due to fierce gun battles.