Kulgam Fallout: Anger Spills Out on to the Streets, People Put Up Barricades
Cops wary of confrontation
SRINAGAR: The killing of seven civilians, including a minor boy, in an explosion at the site of a gun-battle in Kulgam district yesterday has evoked an unprecedented shutdown in the Valley.
Authorities today imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of Srinagar, Kulgam and Anantnag districts to foil any protests against Sunday’s civilian killings in Laroo village that have put the Valley on edge.
At many places across the Valley, reports said protesters have set up barricades to block commuters, with even the police and paramilitary troopers staying away from such areas to avoid any protests or clashes.
“Some measures have been taken because we don’t want to aggravate the situation by going into a confrontational mode,” a senior police officer said, requesting anonymity.
Fresh details of the horrifying explosion have revealed that the joint party of Army, police and paramilitary forces abandoned the site of encounter, where three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed, without clearing the debris.
Although the J&K Police has already issued advisories against visiting such sites, locals have alleged that no attempt was made to prevent any trespassing of the residential house where the three militants were gunned down.
“They (forces) dug the grave for locals. They knew people would search the debris of the residential house for any retrievable item and in the process get killed, so they deliberately left the place in a hurry,” Rashid Din, a resident of Laroo village said over the phone.
Muneeb-ul-Islam, a photojournalist who was the first to reach the site of bloodbath in Kulgam, said locals began gathering at the encounter site soon after the forces had left taking with them three bodies of militants.
“Barely two minutes later, an explosion shook the ground followed by painful screams of the injured,” he said.
Upon seeing the victims, Muneeb said he shouted for help and meanwhile started doing his professional duty by clicking pictures. “One man had both limbs severed by the explosion. He was already dead. Another’s chest was pried open. I have never seen such scenes in my career,” he said.
More than four dozen people were injured in the explosion, some of whom are battling for their lives at SKIMS and SHMS hospitals in the capital Srinagar, where a complete shutdown is being observed.
Reports of shutdown have also come from other areas of Kashmir, as well as the Chenab Valley, even as independent lawmaker Engineer Rashid took out a rally in north Kashmir’s Handwara area where he called for a “joint strategy” between separatist and unionist leaders for “ending the bloodshed”.
With Kashmir on edge, separatists have called for a march to Lal Chowk tomorrow in protest against the tragic deaths in Laroo village.
Independent human rights groups have documented nearly 100 cases, including 80 cases of children, who died due to so-called leftover explosions since 2002.
As far back as 2011 the government headed by Omar Abdullah had asked the police, army, and paramilitary forces to draft a standard operating procedure for "avoiding the loss of human life after IEDs remain undetected owing to non-clearance of debris at encounter sites".