Bijbehara: A civilian was killed in one of the clashes that erupted between protesters and security forces in parts of Kashmir on Thursday following the death of three militants in a shootout in the south of the valley.
A gunfight had raged at Hussanpora village of Arwani after government forces had launched a search and cordon operation on Wednesday to flush out the militants reportedly trapped in a house.
According to a police officer, the slain militants were all Kashmiris and apparently belonged to southern Kashmir where widespread clashes erupted between security forces and civilians after news spread about the militants' deaths.
Sources added that a large number of protesters who tried to march towards encounter site were stopped by government forces. The clashes between Forces and protesters resulted in the death of a civilian who has been identified as a 27-year-old youth Muhammad Arif Shah son of Muhammad Amin a resident of Nayena Sangam.
The police said Shah was hit by a stray bullet but residents alleged he was killed in firing by the security forces. At least a dozen civilians were also injured. One of them was critical, the locals said.
Reports said that hundreds of people started demonstrating in order to help the holed up militants escape since morning and they were intercepted by forces at many places.
“People in large numbers tried to storm the same residential house in which militants were holed up,” local sources said adding “forces used force to disperse them resulting in injuries to dozens of people.”
At least thirty among the injured have been hit by pellets, reports quoting witnesses said.
Militants had retaliated after government forces zeroed in on the house where they were present. Heavy exchange of fire continued between two sides intermittently since Thursday evening. The operation was halted for night and on Thursday morning, militants and government forces again exchanged fire.
Due to ban on internet and mobile phones in the area, conflicting reports stared pouring in about the operation against militants. Some reports said that three militants were killed. The news about the death of the militants sparked widespread protest in Hussanpora, Bijbehara, Vesoo and Newa in south Kashmir. The clashes left dozens injured.
Earlier, there were reports that Lashkar-e-Toiba Divisional Commander and most-wanted militant, Abu Dujana, has got trapped inside the house, the reports that proved incorrect later on.
Clashes also erupted at a dozen places in Anantnag and Kulgam — the worst hit south Kashmir districts in the unrest triggered by the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. In the wake of the unrest since then, some 100 persons died in the months of daily protests and shutdown, which was spearheaded by separatist leaders. The situation in the valley had just started easing. Separatists on Wednesday relaxed for three days — Saturday, Sunday and Monday — their weekly protest calendar. But the protests in south Kashmir on Thursday brought back the memories of the violent days after Wani's killing.
UJC Chief Tributes Slain Militants
Srinagar: UJC Chief Syed Salahuddin Thursday paid tributes to three militants killed in an encounter at Hassanpora village of Arwani in south Kashmir.
Paying tributes to the three slain militants: Majeed Zargar, Muhammad Waseem and Rahil Amin saying these young boys laid their lives for the freedom struggle of Kashmir.
Terming the killings as a jolt to the militancy in Kashmir, he said there are thousands others ready to fight.
He said to muzzle the voice of freedom, India has been adopting multiple tactics to crush the movement but every time it has failed to crush the sentiments of Kashmiris.
“The youth of Kashmir have vowed to sacrifice their lives for sake of Islam and Kashmir’s freedom. We will fight until we achieve success,” he said. (KNS)
Internet Services Snapped In Anantnag
Authorities on Thursday suspended mobile internet services in Anantnag district following an encounter in Arwani area of Bijbehara town.
Reports said that the sound of heavy mortar shells was heard since last evening when troops of counter insurgency Rashtriya Rifles (RR), special operations group of state police and central reserve police force surrounded Arwani village late on Wednesday after receiving information about the presence of militants.
Today morning, mobile phone and GPRS services were suspended. Only state-run BSNL phones were working, reports said.
Trains Put On Hold
Train services have been suspended following the encounter in Arwani area of Bijbehara in Islamabad district.
Clashes and protests have erupted in various areas of the south of Kashmir as the death of reported killing of militants spread in the area.
Passengers travelling from Srinagar to different parts of the southern parts of valley including Banihal said that the train they were travelling in has been stopped at Awantipora railway station.
Sources in Northern railway said that the train services have been stopped due to law and order problem in Islamabad and Kulgam areas of Valley.
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