Slain militants buried in Martyrs graveyard
SRINAGAR: Authorities Tuesday imposed an undeclared curfew in North Kashmirs Lolab Valley after people held protests and stormed a police station to retrieve bodies of seven persons killed in an encounter with the army a day earlier.
Authorities had to impose restrictions in the area after thousands of people stormed police station Lolipora, where bodies of the slain militants were kept and demanded they be handed over to public for burial at martyrs graveyard.
Earlier Army claimed that they killed seven foreigners in a fierce gunbattle in Dardpora forests on Monday.
Eyewitnesses said that thousands of people from Lalpora, Dardpora, Darpora, Redinag and adjoining areas came out of their houses Tuesday morning as report of seven deaths spread in the area.
Many were keen to know the exact identity of the slain persons with rumors making rounds that three of them were locals.
Since bodies were kept at police station Lalpora for post-mortem crowds gathered outside the station building since morning itself.
As the crowd swelled amid surcharged atmosphere and intense pro-freedom sloganeering, a group at around noon stormed the police station demanding bodies be handed over to public for last rites.
As restive crowd stormed the police station guards there both police and CRPF restored to intense aerial firing and fired scores of tear-smoke shells to push them back.
Eyewitnesses said that police station was extensively damaged by protestors and so fierce was the raid that some of the policemen ran for cover.
Reports said that, the angry protestors resorted to heavy stone pelting on police and torched two bunkers outside police station. The room of Station House Officer was completely damaged by protesters.
Protestors barged into his room and ransacked it. Sensing trouble, some of the police officers including SHO Lalpora hid under bed, said a journalist working for an international organization who was present there.
Lalpora Sarpanch said over phone that the curfew was clamped on the area at 12 noon after people held massive protests and attacked some government buildings.
During the clashes at least 16 persons including 4 policemen, 7 photo and video journalists and five civilians were injured. One of the civilian Muhammad Mustafa Shah was referred to Kupwara District Hospital for treatment.
Reports said that additional reinforcement of police and CRPF were rushed to the area to take stock of the situation.
Later in order to diffuse the situation; local police contacted Auqaf Committee and handed over the bodies of militants to them.
Agitated protestors who were thousands in number participated in the funeral procession and ultimately laid them at rest in martyrs graveyard at Ratnag.
The reports quoting residents maintained that the none of the slain militants, whose bodies were handed over to public for funeral was local.
More than ten thousand people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain men as many people from far off villages also poured in, said Sanaullah, a member of the Lalpora Auqaf Committee.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kupwara, Itrat Hussain said that restrictions were imposed in Lalpora after people, who presumed the slain militants as being civilians, tried to forcibly get into the police station to see their bodies.
Later, the bodies were given to the members of the Auqaf committee. All the slain militants were buried by the Auqaf. The situation is normal and well under control, he added.
Deputy Inspector General Police North Kashmir J.P.Singh said that all measures have been taken to maintain peace and order in the area. We are monitoring the situation minutely while police and Para-military forces have been deployed in the area to maintain order, he said.
Pertinently, Army Monday claimed that it gunned down top seven foreign militants in Dardpora Forest of Lolab region in North Kashmirs frontier district of Kupwara. Army said that the operation was launched after intelligence inputs were received about the presence of militants in the area.
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