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South Kashmir seethes after 7 die in Kulgam encounter

Jawans being deployed near the encounter site at Frisal in Kulgam district on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Restive south Kashmir was seething again after seven people, including four militants and two soldiers, were killed in an encounter in Kulgam, 70 km from Srinagar, on Sunday.

It all began when four militants, who were holed up in a house in Nagbal village of Frisal area, were surrounded by the security forces during the night. A gunfight erupted on Sunday morning when they opened fire at a search party.

“The terrorists had taken the owner’s son hostage. We had no option but to storm the house,” said Army Brigadier R. Chakarwarty. “While doing so, two soldiers and a civilian were shot by the terrorists. Later, all the terrorists were killed by the security forces.”

Clashes broke out in south Kashmir after the news of the killing of the four militants spread. Eyewitnesses told The Hindu that the security forces “fired into the crowds to break up the fast-spreading protests.”

According to figures released by two hospitals in south Kashmir, 15 civilians were treated, including 12 with bullet injuries. One of the injured civilians, identified as Mushtaq Ibrahim, a resident of Srigufwara, succumbed to injuries in a Srinagar hospital.

From Hizb, Lashkar

“Two militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen and two others were associated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT),” said Brigadier Chakarwarty. “Their death is bound to impact the morale of the terrorists.”

The four slain militants were all residents of Kulgam. The civilian was identified as Ashiq Reshi, a government employee and father of a three-month-old child. An Army spokesman identified the deceased soldiers as Lance Naik Bhandoriya Gopal Singh, 33, and Sepoy Raghubeer Singh, 32. Three more soldiers suffered injuries.

Opposition National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had claimed that she ordered the forces to exercise restraint while dealing with civilians.

“Sunday’s incident showed the reality. Why was the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) not followed?” he asked.

J&K government spokesman Naeem Akhtar said the government “will look into the matter and find out the circumstances that led to such a situation.”

In a joint statement, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik called a shut-down for February 13 and ‘Kulgam march’ for February 15. “People of J&K are not war-mongers. It’s India’s stubbornness that is at the root of all the bloodshed,” Mr. Geelani said.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 10:40:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/South-Kashmir-seethes-after-7-die-in-Kulgam-encounter/article17291640.ece

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