Protests Force Army to Lift Siege in Kulgam

Govt. forces resort to aerial firing to disperse protesters

KULGAM:  Government forces, including Army and counter insurgent Special Operation Group personnel, Monday were forced to lift the siege of a South Kashmir hamlet after villagers protested against what they called ‘unnecessary harassment during routine crackdowns’. 

The protesters reportedly turned violent prompting government forces to resort to aerial firing and tear-gas shelling.

Reports said Army personnel from 1st RR and SOG Kulgam cordoned off Haworah hamlet of Kulgam district after they reportedly received inputs about the presence of the militants in the village. “Siege was laid at around 4 A.M Monday and shortly after Fajr prayers people were ordered to assemble in the premises of Government High School Hawoorah,” group of villagers said.

They alleged that on the pretext of presence of militants in the villages, the people in the district are being harassed and targeted on daily basis. “As usual people came out from their houses and assembled in the premises of the school. Army personnel directed some youth to accompany them as they intended to carry on door to door searches. 

An army soldier hit and kicked a youth after he refused to accompany them, prompting villagers to protest against the unwanted action,” they said adding that infuriated soldiers went on rampage and beat up every civilian who came in their way.

The villagers said that large number of people raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans forcing government forces to lift the cordon. “Before fleeing from the village, the Army and SOG personnel resorted to aerial firing, thrashed both men and women and ransacked the houses,” the villagers alleged.

A woman identified as Safina Banoo wife of Muhammad Ashraf Bhat received serious wound. She alleged that Army soldiers thrashed her without any provocation. “The houses and shops of Muhammad Akbar Wani, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat and others were damaged by the government forces,” said villagers

Eyewitnesses said the Hawaoorah incident sparked protest in nearby villages of Redwani, Khudwani and Qaimoh where people took to streets and raised pro-freedom slogans.

A police official said that some elements hurled stones of the searching parties and the situation was brought under control. “There were inputs about the presence of militants in the village and search operation was carried out in presence of respectable citizens. Government forces did not apply force on any villager despite the fact, some youth resorted to stone-pelting,” he said.CNS

Army refute allegations

Kulgam: Refuting the allegations that it beat up protesters and resorted to aerial firing, the Army Monday while clarifying its stand over Hawoorah Kulgam incident said that it were some ‘Over-Ground Workers’ (OGW’s) who created trouble during the search operation.

An army official from 15 Chinar Corps said that, “After receiving inputs about the presence of militants from local Kulgam police, Army and SOG cordoned off the Hawarooh village. People were asked to assemble at one place and searches were conducted with the help of local people. Some OGW’s from Kujjar area during search operation resorted to stone-pelting and instigated others to do so. The Army exercised maximum restraint and called off the operation. During the operation, two OGW’s were arrested who were identified as Adil Maqbool Dar and Nazir Ahmed Tantray, both residents of Kujjar,” the official said.

The official said that during ‘intense’ stone-pelting the window panes of some houses were damaged while a woman was also hit by a stone.

He said that, “Army never intends to bother innocent people. The ultimate motive of any search operation always remain to track militants.” 

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