3 militants from south Kashmir slain, CRPF officer critically wounded
Srinagar: A 45-year-old civilian woman was killed in “crossfire” and three militants from south Kashmir were gunned down in Batamaloo area of Srinagar during an encounter that began in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, police said. A paramilitary CRPF officer was critically wounded and another CRPF personnel sustained injuries during the gunfight.
Talking to reporters, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said that all the three militants killed in the encounter were locals from south Kashmir, and that a woman was unfortunately killed in “crossfire”.
“Her death is very unfortunate, and we express sympathy with the bereaved family,” the DGP said, emphasising that government forces always try to avoid collateral damage in any operation.
The encounter started in the early hours of the day when security forces, acting on a lead, zeroed in on a house where the militants were hiding, Singh said.
The killed woman, identified as Kousar Reyaz, 45, was buried in the local graveyard where scores of people attended her funeral. An eyewitness told Kashmir Reader that drones were monitoring the funeral from the sky. The eyewitness said that pro-freedom slogans were shouted but there was no stone-pelting from the mourners at the government forces deployed in the area.
In the morning, however, street protests in the form of a mass procession at Batamaloo were countered by government forces with tear gas, chilly powder spray, and baton charge.
Locals said that Kausar was going from her home to open her local bakery (Kandur) shop when she was hit by a bullet fired by government forces, a claim rejected by the police.
The encounter began after a cordon and search operation in Firdousabad locality of Batamaloo at about 2.30 am when militants opened fire on the forces, Singh said.
“They were given a chance to surrender, but they refused and fired. Arms and ammunition have been recovered from them,” Singh said.
“One CRPF officer and another CRPF man sustained injuries in the initial exchange of firing. The officer is critical and we are praying for his recovery,” Singh added.
He said that militants from other districts of Kashmir keep coming to Srinagar to carry out attacks on security forces.
“On August 14, they targeted our party and killed two policemen at Nowgam. Before that, they had killed two BSF men at Pandach on the city outskirts. Then they made another attempt at Pantha Chowk, where we lost a brave Special Operations Group (SOG) man,” the DGP said.