"Soldier Dies, 5 Militants Killed: Protests and Curfew in Kashmir"
SRINAGAR: An Army soldier, who was wounded in the Kupwara gun-battle which ended in the killing of five suspected militants, succumbed on Sunday afternoon at an Army hospital in Srinagar, officials said.
Mobile internet services in the north Kashmir district were suspended midnight amid fears of "law and order problems" over the killing of five suspects in a nine-hour long gun-battle at Chak Drugmulla villageon Saturday.
A senior J&K Police officer said there are apprehensions of "misuse of social media" by “trouble mongers” in the frontier district following the killings, which have anguished the villagers.
"We have intelligence inputs that trouble-mongers will spread rumors on internet which can flare up the situation. After making assessments, mobile internet services were withdrawn on Sunday night," the police officer said.
Two Army personnel were also injured in the initial exchange of gunfire in Saturday’s encounter; one of them identified as Naik Gawade Pandurang Mahadev suffered critical bullet injuries and he succumbed on Sunday afternoon at the Army hospital in Srinagar.
“The brave soldier was part of the column which initially located and engaged the hiding terrorists leading to successfull (sic) elimination of all five terrorists,” a defence spokesman said in a statement.
Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, as the forces plugged all the escape routes of the militants who were holed up inside a residential house, the Army's elite 9-Para joined the operations following which the house was razed with mortar shells, killing all the five suspects.
After sanitising the site of encounter, the bodies of the suspects were handed over by forces to the local Auqaf committee. They were kept by the locals at a seminary for the night, amid heightening tensions in the village.
According to reports, thousands of people Sunday morning gathered near the seminary to participate in the funeral prayers of the suspects, allegedly belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit, who had reportedly sneaked into this side of Kashmir recently, according to police.
Clashes then broke out in the village as the locals took the bodies for a mass funeral during which some agitated youths pelted stones at forces who responded with teargas and baton charge. There were no reports of any damage or injury to any person.
Amid pro-freedom, pro-Islam and anti-India slogans, the deceased were laid to rest at Chak in the morning. According to reports, locals have raised questions about the veracity of the encounter and demanded that an inquiry be conducted to ascertain the facts of the case. The Army officials however denied any mischief.