Srinagar, Dec 15: In one of the bloodiest days in recent years, seven civilians were killed today in security forces firing in Monghama area of village Sirnoo in Pulwama district after the killing of three militants and a soldier during a gunfight in the village.
Army’s 55 RR, Special Operations Group (SOG) of Police and 182/183 Battalions of CRPF jointly launched a cordon and search operation this morning in Monghama area of Pulwama district on specific information about the presence of militants in the area.
As the security forces approached towards the militants, they were fired upon by them triggering a gun battle during which three militants and an Army man were killed. The militants have been identified as Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, son of Abdul Majid Thoker resident of Sirnoo Pulwama. Thoker had deserted Army last year and joined militancy. The other two have been identified as Adnan Hamid Bhat of Kareemabad and Bilal Ahmad Magray of Rajpora. The soldier has been identified as Sowar Kishan Singh of Rajasthan.
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As the news about the killing of three militants spread in the area, the people living in the vicinity tried to march to gunfight site but security forces stopped their march, triggering intense clashes.
Sources said that protesters attacked an Army Casper and tried to snatch the body of a militant. Security forces fired in air to disperse the protesters and when they failed to control them, they fired on the protesters injuring dozens. The injured were brought to district hospital Pulwama where six critically injured succumbed to injuries and one of the injured youth referred to SMHS hospital Srinagar succumbed in the afternoon.
Dozens of injured were still undergoing treatment in district hospital Pulwama and SMHS hospital in Srinagar.
The dead have been identified as Amir Ahmad Pal son of Abdul Rashid Paof Ashmandr Pulwama, Abid Hussain Lone son of Ghulam Nabi Lone of Karimabad Pulwama, Liyaqat Ahmad Dar of Parigam, Shahbaz Ali son of Ali Mohammad of Monghama, Suhail Ahmad of Below, Murtaza of Prichoo and Tawseef Ahmad Mir son of Mohammad Ahsan Mir of Urchersoo in Pulwama district.
One of the seven civilians killed in the firing has left behind an Indonesian wife and a three-month-old baby. Abid Hussain Lone of Karimabad village completed his MBA from Indonesia, and had returned home last year with his wife.
A police spokesman said that during the search operation, which was 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 man succumbed to his injury while others are being treated at a hospital.
“While the operation was going on, crowd came dangerously close from different parts to the encounter site and got injured,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that injured were evacuated to hospital where seven persons succumbed to their injuries. He said others who were admitted in the hospital are stated to be stable. “The loss of civilians is deeply grieved. Police once again appeal 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 spokesman added.
The police spokesman said that several cases were registered against the killed militant Zahoor Thokar including that of the killing of policemen Aqib Ahmad Wagay of Puchal, Pulwama.
“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition recovered from the site of encounter have been taken in case records for further investigation and probe their complicity in other cases,” the spokesman said.
Police have registered a case in the killing of civilians in Pulwama district and started investigations.
In the meantime, separatist Hurriyat Conference leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik today said that South of Kashmir has been turned into a graveyard for its people especially the youth, as 11 of its residents were killed today.
Strongly condemning the killings, Hurriyat Conference called for three days strike and protests against the killings and march to Army headquarters in Badami Bagh on Monday.
Authorities at the University of Kashmir, Hazratbal today postponed the Undergraduate and M.Ed examinations scheduled on Monday. “All the Under Graduate (General and Professional) and M.Ed examinations scheduled to be held on 17-12-2018 are hereby postponed,” said a University spokesperson.
Authorities suspended the mobile Internet service in Srinagar and South Kashmir districts of Pulwama and Shopian as precautionary measures. The train services between Banihal and Baramulla were also suspended.
In view of the shutdown called by the separatists, the district administration Srinagar today decided to impose restrictions in Srinagar areas on Sunday to prevent any possible protests. Authorities are imposing restrictions in Srinagar areas falling under the jurisdiction of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safa Kadal, Maharaj Gunj and Maisuma Police Stations especially in Old City areas to thwart any protests.
The District Magistrate Pulwama today imposed restrictions under Section 144 of Cr PC in the district in view of the apprehension of breach of peace.