Kashmir on edge after 10 die in gunfight, clashes

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam Padder and a missing Kashmir University assistant professor were identified among the slain militants.

May 06, 2018 07:59 am | Updated December 01, 2021 06:19 am IST - Srinagar

Villagers carrying the body of a militant, Saddam Padder, in Heff village on Sunday.

Villagers carrying the body of a militant, Saddam Padder, in Heff village on Sunday.

Five militants, including slain ‘commander’ Burhan Wani’s aide and a Kashmir University assistant professor, were killed in Shopian on Sunday, sparking widespread clashes that left five civilians dead and over 30 injured. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called for “a political intervention to stop the cycle of violence.”

Did not surrender: DGP

“Every effort to persuade the five trapped militants to surrender failed. All were killed in Shopian’s Badigam. These militants were active in prompting youth to join their ranks. I hope the recruitment of militants will slow down,” said Director General of Police S.P. Vaid. Three security personnel were also injured in the firing, the police said.

Lecturer among dead

The five slain militants included Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam Padder, the 11th militant in the group picture taken in 2016 by Burhan Wani’s recruits. Dr. Muhammad Rafi Bhat, 33, an assistant professor of Sociology at Kashmir University, was also killed. Bhat was missing since Friday.

The police identified the other three militants as Bilal Ahmad Mohand, Adil Ahmad Malik and Tauseef Ahmad Sheikh, all from the districts of south Kashmir.

The encounter sparked widespread violent protests in Shopian and adjoining districts of Kulgam and Pulwama. “Unfortunately, while handling a highly volatile situation, civilians were injured in cross-fire. Among them, five civilians succumbed to their injuries,” said a police spokesman.

Locals alleged the security forces opened fire into the crowd at a number of places in Shopian. Hundreds of locals participated in the funerals of the deceased militants and the civilians, fuelling more protests. Two fire tenders were also set on fire by the protesters in Shopian.

“We received injured from various locations in Shopian and adjoining districts,” a doctor told The Hindu .

According to the hospital officials, all the five died of firearm injury and over 20 were treated for severe injuries.

The deceased youth were identified as Asif Ahmad Mir of Pulwama, Zubair Ahmad Negroo of Rajpora, Yasir of Shopian, Adil Ahmad of Kulgam and Sajad Ahmad of Dooru.

Away from the encounter site, four civilians died during clashes in Chitragam and Behibagh areas of Shopian and Kulgam districts, according to locals.

The death toll in militancy-related incidents has risen to 17 in the past 36 hours, putting Kashmir on the boil again.

Call for shutdown

Separatists have called for a shutdown for the second consecutive day on Monday and asked people to assemble at the Civil Secretariat, which is opening after six months as part of the annual shifting of the capital from Jammu to Srinagar.

“The indiscriminate manner in which people are killed on a daily basis has the go-ahead from New Delhi. People should move towards the Civil Secretariat on Monday to hold a peaceful sit-in till the perpetrators agree to put an end to the daily carnage,” said a joint statement issued by separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

CM Mufti, who expressed anguish over civilian casualties, said, “Political issues need political interventions. The Kashmir issue can be resolved only through a sustained dialogue between all stakeholders.”

The national leadership must engage in a meaningful dialogue to get the State out of the ‘quagmire of killings’, said Ms. Mufti.

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