Protests, Clashes Erupt At 2 Encounter Sites In South Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Intense pro-freedom protests followed by clashes erupted at two encounter sites in Valley on Saturday even as suspected militants escaped from a cordon launched by armed forces in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. The incidents took place despite stern warning by Indian army chief to pro-freedom protestors recently.

Armed forces including army, CRPF, SOG and JK police had cordoned Chillipora village of mountainous Shopian district on late Friday evening where militants were believed to be hiding. After brief exchange of fire last night, official sources said that forced called off the operation.

The operation was launched after receiving inputs about the presence of three to four militants of Hizbul Mujahideen at Chillipora. As the searches were started, the militants fired upon the forces, ensuing in to an encounter. The exchange of fire continued till late hours of Friday but under the cover of darkness, the militants escaped, sources told a local news gathering agency – GNS.

During the encounter, locals had come out of their houses and pelted stones on forces. After night-long pause, the operation was resumed this morning but there was no fresh firing after which the operation was called off.

Sources said as the parties of forces were coming back from Chillipora, dozens of youth targeted them with stones at Heff village.

During the intense stone pelting attack by civilians, one vehicle of CRPF personnel met an accident and resulted in injuries to over a dozen paramilitary men. “As the clashes turned violent, forces opened fire and used pellets in which several youths were injured, one of them sustained bullet injuries in his hand,” local sources said. The clashes in the area were on for several hours.

Meanwhile, clashes erupted in Tral village town of Pulwama district as forces launched search and cordon operation on late Saturday evening.

Massive clashes erupted in Oppo village of Tral area after armed forces launched a search and cordon operation following an input about the presence of suspected militants.

According to sources, the forces this evening cordoned off Oppo village and launched searches. As the searches were underway, locals came out of their houses and resorted to heavy stone-pelting to disrupt the operation against militants suspected to be present in the village.

However, the cordon operation was on in the village when reports last came and additional contingents of forces were brought in to tighten the siege. Reports said a local militant commander was believed to be trapped but there was no official confirmation. Meanwhile, clashes also erupted at Tral Town after news about trapping of militants spread.

“Army is engaged in a fierce gunfight with militants while as people have attacked armed forces with stones around the encounter site,” a police official said. “We cannot confirm anything about the encounter as JKP officials are involved in law and order problem in Tral area,” the cop told the Kashmir Observer around 10:20 PM.

Reports said youth pelted stones on police and CRPF while shopkeepers downed their shutters.

It may be noted that General Bipin Rawat had warned people of Kashmir Valley not to disrupt anti-militancy operations. The warning came amid rising number of casualties on the side of government forces during fire fight with the militants.

Late in the night, PTI quoting unanmed official sources reported that an unnamed suspected militant was killed in Tral encounter where four to five top Hizbul Mujahideen militants were believed to be holed up in a house. “Special forces of army were deployed to carry out a combing operation in the area,” the report added. Curfew has been clamped in the area, as protesters had gathered near the encounter site, however, Kashmir police chief denied reports that curfew has been imposed in the area

Rifle Snatched From CRPF Man

Youth on Saturday attacked a paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and snatched his service rifle, reports said.

Reports said that youth armed with sticks attacked the trooper at Bus Stand Tral and snatched his rifle.

A large number of youth, assembled at Bus stand Tral, were throwing stones on the forces to prevent them from reaching Nazneenpora village where a siege was being laid.

CRPF Officer Critical

Seriously wounded Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Commanding Officer, Chetan Cheeta’s, continues to remain critical, said medical bulletin released on Saturday.

The Commandant of the 45 Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who sustained multiple injuries during an encounter with militants in Hajin on February 14, is reportedly in a critical condition at the AIIMS trauma centre.

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat visited the CRPF officer in hospital to take cognisance of his medical condition.

Three soldier and a militant was killed and seven others were injured in the encounters in the Hajin area of Bandipora (CNS)

Soldier’s Bid To Steal Truck, Weapon Foiled

J&K Police foiled an attempt by an Indian army soldier to flee with a truck and a weapon from the Udhampur-based Northern Command, and recovered the vehicle and weapon though the accused soldier managed to escape.

“We got a message from the army that one jawan has fled with an army truck and weapon from Northern Command area last evening,” Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Kathua, Pawan Parihar said.

“We deployed police for checking at Lakhanpur interstate toll plaza and finally in the late night, we were able to recover the truck and weapon but the jawan gave the slip and escaped,” he said.

The army truck and carbine weapon has been handed over to the Military Police and a case has been registered by police in Udhampur, the officer said.

The investigation is on along with efforts to trace the soldier, he said

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