Blood bath in Pulwama: Ten including 7 civilians, 3 militants killed
Srinagar: Seven civilians died in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday when forces allegedly opened fire at an unruly crowd that tried to storm the site of an encounter in which three militants and an Army man were killed, police said.
Witnesses said that the incident took place at Sirnoo village in the morning when the forces laid siege to a locality based on intelligence reports about the presence of three militants, including an Army deserter – Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, in the area.
They said that troops resorted to firing after the encounter was over and the army men were leaving the area.
As soon as the news about Thoker being trapped in an encounter spread, people started thronging the encounter site as the army deserter belonged to the same village, police said.
Though the encounter ended in 25 minutes with the killing of the three militants, the forces had a tough time to control the mob that were disrupting the sanitization operation in the area.
Witnesses said that as the mob grew in number troops fired on the mob resulting in grievous injuries to several people who were part of the protesting group.
Sources said that six civilians were killed after forces opened fire on protesters near the site of the gunfight.
The slain civilians were identified as Shahbaz Ali, resident of Monghama village, Suhail Ahmad of Bellow, Liyaqat Ahmad from Parigam, Murtaza of Prichoo, Amir Ahmad Palla of Ashminder and Abid Hussain Lone of Kareemabad.
However, a civilian, identified as Touseef Ahmad Mir, who was critically injured in the forces’ action succumbed at SMHS hospital.
Mir, it said, was injured in forces’ action in Sirnoo and was taken to district hospital Pulwama where from he was referred to SMHS Srinagar. However, he succumbed due to grave injuries.
Meanwhile, sources said that another youth who is admitted in SMHS Hospital is stated to be in a critical condition.
Pertinently, the gunfight that erupted early morning on Saturday left three Hizbul militants dead.
The three militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in Kharpora Sirnoo village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district were affiliated with Hizb ul Mujahideen.
The slain included Zahoor Ahmad Thokar of Sirnoo, a former army soldier who deserted his unit to join the militant ranks.
The other two slain militants were identified as Adnan Hamid Bhat of Kareemabad and Bilal Ahmad Magray of Rajpora Pulwama.
Thoker had gone missing from an Army unit in the Gantmulla area of north kashmir’s Baramulla district in July last year.
He had decamped with his service rifle and three magazines and had joined the militant ranks.
The security forces said that Thoker was involved in several killings in Pulwama district.
A police official meanwhile, said that an army jawan also lost his life in the gunfight, while two other soldiers were critical.
Section 144 imposed
The District Magistrate Pulwama Saturday imposed restrictions under section 144 of Cr PC in the district in view of the apprehension of breach of peace.
As per an official handout issued here, the restriction shall stand till further orders. Bonafide medical and other emergencies, however, shall be exempted from the restrictions.
Mobile internet services suspended
Mobile internet services were suspended on Saturday in most parts of Kashmir, including in Srinagar — the summer capital, in the aftermath of killing of seven civilians in Pulwama district, officials said.
The civilians were killed when security forces allegedly opened fire at an unruly crowd that tried to storm the site of an encounter in Srinoo village. Three militants and a soldier were killed in the encounter.
High-speed mobile internet services have been suspended in most parts of the Valley as a precautionary measure, the officials said.
They said the services have been barred in four districts of south Kashmir, Srinagar, Bandipora and Sopore township in Baramulla and Handwara in Kupwara district.
The internet speeds have been throttled in Budgam and Ganderbal districts, they added.
The mobile internet services are working normally in the rest of the areas in Baramulla and Kupwara districts, the officials said.
Police said though the encounter ended in 25 minutes with the killing of the three militants, including an Army deserter – Zahoor Ahmed Thoker, the security forces had a tough time as people started climbing onto Army vehicles, the officials said.
Police regrets civilian killings
Police Saturday regretted the civilian killings while terming them unfortunate.
“A search operation was launched jointly by the security forces based on a credible input about the presence of militants in Monghama area of village Sirnoo in District Pulwama Saturday morning.
During the search operation, which was conducted in an open field with hideout made by the militants, hiding militants fired indiscriminately leading to an encounter.
Consequently Army personnel got injured and one Army jawan succumbed to his injury while others are being treated at a hospital.
“While the operation was going on, many persons from a crowd came dangerously close from different parts to the encounter site and several among them got injured. The injured were evacuated to hospital where unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries,” the police statement said.
Others who were admitted in the hospital are stated to be stable, it added.
“The loss of civilians is deeply grieved. Police once again appeals the citizens to remain away from encounter site as it is a prohibited zone which involves significant danger to life because of nature of the encounter,” the statement added.
Police said that three were killed. Bodies were handed over to the legal heirs after completion of medico-legal formalities.
One of the killed militants has been identified as Zahoor Ahmad Thoker son of Abdul Majid Thoker resident of Sirnoo Pulwama, police said.
Pertinently, Zahoor had deserted from Army last year and joined HM militant outfit. He was a known militant commander and was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of militant crimes including attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Several militant cases were registered against him and the prominent among them are case FIR No. 37/2018 U/S 307 RPC 7/27 I.A.Act P/S Rajpora, Case FIR No. 105/2018 U/S ¾ Exp Sub Act, 427 RPC, 3 P.P.T Act P/S Pulwama, Case FIR No. 124/2018 U/S 7/27 I.A. Act, 148,336,149,307 RPC P/S Pulwama, Case FIR No. 128/2018 U/S ¾ Exp Sub Act 307 RPC P/S Pulwama, Case FIR No. 139/2018 U/S 307 RPC 7/25 ULA of P/S Pulwama pertaining to the killing of policemen Aqib Ahmad Wagay of Puchal Pulwama.
Police registers FIR
Director General of Police (DGP), Dilbagh Singh on Saturday said that FIR has been registered into the civilian killings that took place in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on today during the post encounter clashes in Sirnoo village.
The DGP while talking to a local news gathering agency KNS said that police has registered an FIR into the killings and the investigations have been started.
He said that some persons for their vested interests are trying to deteriorate the situation on ground.
Terming the civilian killings as ‘unfortunate and painful’, DGP added that police once again appeal the youth not to come closer to the gunfight sites.