Protests Over Slain 'Militants' Shuts Down Pulwama
SRINAGAR: A complete shutdown is being observed in parts of Pulwama district in Kashmir Valley following the killing of three suspected militants and subsequent clashes which injured nearly two dozen people, including cops, on Saturday.
A senior police officer said heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces has been made in areas of Pulwama to prevent clashes following the killing of three alleged militants in an encounter in Panzgam village of south Kashmir during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday.
He said a joint team of J&K police's counter-insurgency wing, Indian Army's 55 RR and 130 Bn CRPF cordoned off a house in the village Friday night after receiving a tipoff about the presence of militants.
"When militants got to know about the siege, they tried to break the cordon. However, all the three were shot dead," the police officer said. Nineteen year old Vakeel Ahmed was injured in a grenade explosion at the encounter site after the gunfight was over.
The slain were identified as Ishfaq Hamid Dar, of Dogripora, Haseeb Ahmad Pal, of Awantipora and Ishfaq Baba son, of Tahab, all allegedly affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen. Amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the funeral prayers of the three militants were held in their native villages which were attended by a sea of people.
Soon after the killings, clashes erupted between agitated protesters and forces in different areas of Pulwama which also forced the closure of train service. Mobile as well as internet services were suspended in the district for five hours to prevent any escalation.
However, severe clashes broke out in Tahab village of Ishfaq where agitated youths, shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, clashed with forces, resulting in injuries to nearly two dozen protesters and three policemen. Clashes were also reported from other areas of the district.
Officials said thousands of people assembled in the playground of a government school and participated in the funeral procession of Ishfaq. "After funeral procession, some militants surfaced in the area and gave a gun-salute to their fallen comrade," witnesses said.
Officials said a CRPF camp in Tahab was attacked by the protesters with stones and the forces lobbed teargas shells and fired pellet grenades to disperse them. However, locals accused the forces of ransacking many houses and smashing windowpanes.
The south Kashmir districts including Pulwama, which are part of the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, have witnessed a surge in militancy related incidents over the last 15 months with young educated boys, most of them belonging to financially sound families, joining the militant groups.