Police Opens Fire on Militants Funeral in Pulwama, 35 hurt

Defying restrictions thousands join Lashkar militants funeral procession, Scores injured in clashes

Pulwama: Despite restrictions, extensive military deployment around Kakapora township, thousands of people, including a large number of women, from adjoining villages joined the funeral procession of  militant commander Talib Hussain Shah who was killed during a gunfight with Indian Army on Thursday evening.

Two youth were seriously injured after police reportedly fired at angry protesters.

Eyewitnesses said that the extensive military and police deployment around Kakapora and adjoining areas failed in deter thousands of mourners from marching in the funeral procession of the 22 year old militant who hailed from the same area. Shah was associated with the Lashkar-eTaiba outfit.

Clashes broke out in the area between protesters and Govt forces, lasting all day long until evening hours, soon after body of Shah was brought to his home. Police said at least 35 protesters were injured, three among them (Amir Bhat and Owais Ahmad of Ratnipora and Firdous Ahmed of Karimabad) were shifted to Srinagar for treatment.

According to Abdul Hamid Shah, the cousin of slain militant, police authorities handed over the body to the family after we gave assurance to them that last rites of the martyred militant will be performed peacefully. However mourners ignored my pleas and clashed with the government forces, he said.

Reports said that to keep a lid on the situation, authorities imposed an undeclared curfew in Kakapora and adjoining areas. Barricades were erected around main bridge in Kakapora but surcharged crowds forced police and paramilitary forces to retreat by resorting to heavy stone pelting. Witnesses said that as Talib’s body reached his native village at around 9:30 AM, more than 20,000 people raising pro-freedom slogans marched with the body and joined final prayers. The prayers were led by Tehreek-e-Hurriyat district president Ghulam Mohiuddin Andrabi.

 “Soon after the body of Talib was laid to rest in martyrs graveyard in Kakapora, hundreds of people cornered 53 RR camp and 183 Battalion CRPF and hurled barrage of stones. 

To disperse the protesters, the Army and CRPF resorted to aerial firing and lobbed dozens of tear gas shells. Scores of protesters were wounded,” an eyewitness said.

Officials said 35 protesters were injured in the clashes. The seriously injured were identified as 22-year Owais Ahmad of Ratnipora and 20 year old Lateef Ahmad of Lalhar village, and Firdous Ahmed of Karimabad.

One of them was  shifted to SKIMS Soura while two others were taken to Bone and Joints Hospital Srinagar. 

Other injured protesters were shifted either to Pampore or Pulwama hospitals. The doctors at Pampore hospital confirmed that six people admitted in the hospital were having pellet injuries.

Eyewitnesses said that even women were seen pelting stones on police, Army and CRPF personnel. 

“The situation is tense but under control,” said a police official.

Meanwhile, the killing of LeT militant sparked protest in Pulwama district where large number of youth hurled stones on police and CRPF personnel. Police used tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters. A complete shutdown was observed in Pulwama town to mourn the death of the militant. All the shops and business establishments in Pulwama, Pampore and Kakapora and other adjoining areas remained shut and transport did not ply on the roads. Eyewitnesses said that police charged the protesters with canes and burst tear smoke shells when they hurled stones on police station, Pulwama.

Pertinently Talib Afzal Shah was killed while two militants managed to escape from the encounter site at Astanmohalla Kakapora. At least four houses were damaged during the gun fight. The houses belonged to Abdul Majid Sofi, Lassa Wagay, Abdul Gani Sofi and Ghulam Muhammad Sofi.

Manhunt launched to nab Qasim Bhai 

Srinagar: One of the two militants who escaped from encounter site in Kakapra has been identified by security agencies as Qasim Bhai of Pakistan and a both the Army and Police have jointly launched a manhunt to nab him.

CNS quoting  reliable police sources said that security agencies have been looking for the two militants who escaped from the cordoned house at Kakapora. Police sources identified the two escaped militants as Qasim Bhai of Pakistan and Manzoor Ahmed Dar of Aloochi Bagh Samboora Pampore.

A police official said that that Qasim Bhai was the mastermind of Udhampur attack on BSF convoy in which a Pakistani militant was killed and another was captured alive. “Qasim has managed to break the cordon scores of times in recent past. He is a dreaded militant and has been operating in South Kashmir from past many years,” he said adding that Qasim Bhai has been playing a key role in motivating youth to join militant ranks in South Kashmir. “Talib Hussain Shah who lost his life in the encounter was also his product and it was Qasim Bhai who had motivated him to join militant ranks,” he said.

Another police official said that few militants including Qasim Bhai are involved in different militancy related activities and police is on job to track and crack them down. “Once we neutralize Qasim, we believe that militancy would almost come to an end in South Kashmir,” he claimed.

In recent past, police had pasted posters in different areas of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district portraying the active militants of Lashkar, Jaish, and Hizb, especially Qasim Bhai as ‘dacoit’ and ‘murderer’ and had requested people to inform police about his whereabouts. “Police had offered government jobs and cash rewards for the informers, yet nobody came up with accurate information,” said the police official. (CNS) 

Our restraint helped them escape: Army

Srinagar:  Army Friday said that it was dead impossible for the two hiding militants to escape from the encounter site at Kakapora Pulwama on Thursday night. “These hiding militants were able to escape just because we exercised maximum restraint. The running militants resorted to indiscriminate firing. We didn’t want collateral damage so we didn’t respond. It could have proved disastrous and fatal for the civilians, if the men cornering the encounter site had responded in the language of militants,” said an Army spokesperson from 15 Chinar Corps.

He said that the operation was going on in a built up area and to avoid innocent killings, the Army was bound to restrain themselves. “The running militants who came out from the house didn’t know whom they were targeting. Most of their bullets hit the residential houses. The Army, Police and CRPF were conscious and they didn’t want to harm any innocent person,” he said.

Responding to a question, the Army spokesperson said that it is human psychology to express grief over the demise of any person. “People protested while some resorted to violent means. But they forgot that it were the locals who informed Army about the presence of militants in the area. The same people protested who provided information to us,” he said. (CNS)

 

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