Monday, February 20, 2017
SRINAGAR: Security forces in Kashmir seem to have learned no lessons from the 2016 uprising with at least dozen civilians in Kulgam hit by bullets above waistline, a clear violation of Standard Operating Procedure for handling protesters.
Despite clear-cut directions from the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to exercise restraint while dealing with protesters, Jammu and Kashmir police, Army and paramilitary troopers went on a rampage in south Kashmir's Kulgam district yesterday, injuring at least three dozen protesters.
Officials in the health department told The Citizen that at least dozen protesters had bullet injuries above their waistline while two had pellet injuries in their eyes and they are admitted at SMHS hospital in Srinagar. "The critically injured are admitted at Srinagar hospitals," sources said.
Witnesses in Kulgam said the security forces went berserk after the encounter, in which four militants, two army soldiers and a civilian got killed, ended, "They started firing at people as if they were firing in a practice ground," a local of Frisal said, wishing anonymity.
Dozens of video clips shot during the protests have gone viral on social media. In one of the clips, a group of youth are seen shouting pro-freedom and anti-police slogans at security personnel standing some hundred metres away. Suddenly one of the youth sitting on the ground starts screaming in horror:"Mye aayi goouil (Bullet has hit me)," the youth screams, as others lift him and seek help in taking him to hospital.
The clip clearly shows that the security personnel faced no imminent threat from the protesting youth, the excuse used by forces to defend their violent actions.
"They had come to kill. Two of their soldiers were killed in the encounter and they took their revenge by firing at and killing ordinary people who were staging protests. This is how they have been treating people in Kashmir," another local said, wishing anonymity.
"I had gone out to make some household purchases when the security forces fired at me. I was not protesting. They (forces) deliberately targeted me to perhaps scare away protesters who were some distance away," Asif Dar, who was hit by bullet in the abdomen, said.
Meanwhile curfew like restrictions have been imposed in parts of south Kashmir where situation remains tense following the killing of civilians and militants in the Kulgam encounter yesterday. The Hurriyat has issued a shutdown call today in protest against the civilian killings.
Two civilians, two Army soldiers and four suspected militants were killed as a fierce encounter broke out in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Sunday while an Army major and two soldiers were injured, officials said.
(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR)