Srinagar: Three youth including a girl were killed on Saturday and two others wounded in the Army firing on protesters in Jammu and Kashmir’s southern Kulgam district. The incident occurred amid rising tensions in the Valley ahead of the second death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
Wani was along with two other militants killed by the Army in Kokernag area of Anantnag on July 8, 2016, sparking off widespread unrest in Kashmir Valley and Chenab valley areas of Jammu region which continued for about six months during which more than eighty people were killed.
The witnesses said that the Army arrived in Hawoora village of Kulgam’s Redwani area on Saturday reportedly to conduct searches following reports about the presence of separatist militants. But the troops were confronted by surging crowds which allegedly hurled rocks at their vehicles amid chants of “we want freedom”.
The Army fired live ammunition to quell the mob, injuring, at least, five people. All of them were rushed to a medical facility in neighbouring Frisal area where the doctors declared three of them brought dead. The slain have been identified as Shakir Ahmed Khanday, 22, Irshad Ahmed, 20 and Andleeb Jan, 16 — all residents of Hawoora.
Thousands of people attended their funeral, the witnesses said. A report said that two masked gunmen also appeared at the scene and offered the slain a gun salute. Two seriously injured youth have been brought to Srinagar for specialised treatment at a local hospital.
A statement issued by the J&K police here said that an Army patrol moving through Hawoora Mishipora area on Saturday afternoon was pelted by miscreants. “Consequently, the Army tried to disperse the miscreants and in the process five individuals sustained injuries,” it said, adding that the injured were evacuated to a nearby hospital where three of them including a girl succumbed. The statement further said that the police has started an investigation into the matter.
Upset over the loss of lives, Jammu and Kashmir governor N.N. Vohra, on Saturday evening held an emergency meeting with senior officers of the security forces including Army to discuss the law and order situation in the state. The governor is said to be angry that his directive, that utmost restraint should be exercised during anti-militancy operations and standard operation procedures strictly be adhered to strictly, was ignored.
Mr Vohra had soon after the state was brought under governor’s rule on June 20 in the aftermath of the collapse of the PDP-BJP government held a one-on-one meeting with Army’s Northern Command chief Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh to urge him to ensure there are no civilian casualties during the counterinsurgency operations.