7 Civilians Killed In Kulgam

SRINAGAR — Six civilians were killed in the blast, while another one was killed due to firing by state forces on protesters at Laroo village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Sunday.

Sources said that six civilians died in the blast, another one was killed due to firing by state forces on protesters who took to streets soon after the gunfight in which three local militants were killed and two soldiers were injured at Laroo village in the south Kashmir district.

According to locals, the blast that left six among seven civilians dead and scores of others injured occurred near ‘veranda’ of the house in which militants were killed. They said that explosive that went off might have been placed by the government forces to bring down the house where militants were holed up in Kulgam district of south Kashmir.  

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The police, however, said that the blast took place from “rear side of the house and not beneath the veranda”, and it occurred when locals were digging the house in a bid to find ‘weapons’ underneath the debris.   

“The explosion occurred beneath the veranda of the residential house where the encounter took place,”  said locals.

 SSP Kulgam Harmeet Singh said that the people went near the encounter site for “searching for the weapons.”

“Possibly some explosive left by the militants went off while people were digging there, leading to the killing of the civilians. Basically, the people started searching for the weapons and while doing so, possibly someone’s foot touched the explosive and there was a blast,” he said.

Asked about claims by people that explosion took place beneath the veranda of the house, the officer said: “It is a matter of investigation but the blast took place from rare and not beneath the veranda.” 

The police officer also confirmed that seven civilians were killed besides three militants— Shahid Ahmad Tantary son of Abdul Rashid Tantary of Wangam Shopian, Zubair Ahmad Lone son of Manzoor Ahmad Lone of Ahwatoo Kulgam and Yazil Ahmad Makroo son of Mushtaq Ahmad of Arwani Bijbehara.   

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Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral of the six civilians while the identity of another civilian remained unknown till late Sunday night. The body of the civilian was kept in a mortuary in the Kulgam hospital for identification till late on Sunday evening and was identified as Javed Ahmed Lone son of Mohammad Ibrahim Lone resident of Hawoora Kulgam. “The body has been handed over the family for burial on Sunday night,” the police officer said.  

The other slain civilians laid to rest after funeral prayers by the thousands of people include Auqib Ahmad Sheikh (18) son of Gulzar Ahmad Sheikh of Danow Macanpora, Kulgam, Uzair Ahmad Dar (8th standard student) son of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar of Nayakpora near Kulgam Town, Irshad Ahmad Paddar son of Sayedullah Paddar of Shurat Kulgam, Mansoor Ahmad Dar Son of Ghulam Mohammad Dar of Bogund Kulgam, Talib Ahmad Laway son of Mohammad Maqbool of Laroo and Mukeen Ahmad Bhat of Laroo.

All the slain were laid to rest in their ancestral graveyard while the funeral of two of the civilians— Talib Ahmad and Mukeen—was held jointly.

Locals said that it was a very difficult day for them because the funerals of the civilians took place within the radius of 8 to 10 kilometres.  

Mother of Mansoor addressed the people during funeral prayers and said that “if my son has hurt anyone, I am seeking forgiveness.” She then broke down amid shouting pro-freedom slogans. 

The funeral prayers of Mansoor and Auqib were held in a paddy field of their respective native Village by thousands of people. 

Mainstream parties express deep anguish over Kulgam Civilian Killings

Mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday expressed deep anguish over the death of six civilians in a blast at an encounter site in Kulgam district after a gunfight in which three militants were killed.

The officials said immediately after the gunfight ended and the forces withdrew from the spot, civilians rushed to the encounter site where an explosive substance went off resulting in the death of six civilians.

“Despite requests to not visit the spot till thorough search is done for explosives, several civilians visited the encounter site immediately after the operation. While they were there, some explosive substance went off, resulting in on the spot death of a civilian and injuries to several others,” they added.

National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah expressed shock and deep anguish over the death of civilians near the encounter site in Laroo area of Kulgam in south Kashmir.

“It is heart rending to learn about such incidents which have become norm of the day. The situation calls for immediate de-escalation from all sides, Abdullah said.

Expressing anguish over the “highly unfortunate” incident, NC vice-president said little good can their words do to those who lost their loved ones. 

“I pray for peace to the souls of those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery for all the injured. I pray to Almighty to give courage to the families of victims to bear the loss. 

He said six civilian casualties in Kulgam “do not augment well for peace to return back to our state. 

A whole new generation is growing in conflict and what needs to be done is to start time bound and result oriented dialogue process, he said.

Omar also took to Twitter, saying, “Terrible news coming out from Kulgam. May the deceased find place in Jannat (heaven). Alienating the people in the fight against militancy is a sure fire recipe for losing the fight. How long can we go on ignoring the ground realities & (and) living in denial about how bad things are in Kashmir? .

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed profound “grief and shock over the death of six civilians and injuries to others.

In a statement, the PDP president appealed Governor S P Malik to ensure that all standard operating procedures (SOPs) are strictly adhered to while dealing with the security situations and all the security agencies are advised to take precautions to avoid any collateral damage.

Mehbooba said she was extremely saddened by the news of the Kulgam incident, where civilians were once again caught in the cross fire of violence, thus adding fuel to the already volatile situation . 

All words of condemnation, condolence sound very hollow at this tragedy, she said.

Conveying her heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families, the PDP president sought immediate release of ex-gratia and other assistance in the favour of deceased civilians and aid to the injured.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga also lamented the civilian deaths and blamed the Centre’s “wrong policies towards Kashmir for the casualties.

In a statement Monga said it is painful to see innocent civilians being killed in Kashmir in such a manner.

“Two days back, a lady was killed in Pulwama district in similar circumstances. It is the arrogance of BJP Government at the Centre which is the root cause for such killings, he said in a statement.

The woman was killed on Friday night in the cross-firing between militants and security forces as the ultras attacked an Army camp in Pulwama district, police said.

The JKPCC vice-president said the BJP Government’s policy “revolves around the use of bullets only .

The Congress leader expressed serious concern over the prevailing situation in Kashmir and said the initiatives taken in Kashmir during the United Progressive Alliance’s 10-year rule “have been reversed and washed away by the incumbent Government . 

CPI(M) leader and MLA Kulgam M Y Tarigami also expressed grief over the loss of civilian lives and demanded a probe into the incident.

“It is really so painful to see such killings happening everyday in Kashmir. But unfortunately, New Delhi is watching all this like a mute spectator and seems in no mood to address the issues politically. There is a deep sense of alienation among Kashmiris, especially youth. It is this deepening alienation and anger which is driving young and old towards the deadly encounter sites, Tarigami said in a statement. 

He said given the rising toll of casualties and no visible efforts by New Delhi to hold meaningful dialogue, there is apprehension that the situation may get more complex . 

Besides, persistent arrogance and repression is bound to aggravate the situation further, he said.

He also demanded a magisterial enquiry into the Kulgam incident.    (With inputs From PTI,GNS)

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