SRINAGAR The city residents whose houses were destroyed in a recent gun battle at Mujgund area of Srinagar accused the government forces of using excessive force and heavy ammunition during the operation.
Three militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), including two minors and a Pakistani national, were killed in the outskirts of Srinagar on Sunday. The killings prompted massive clashes and a shutdown later. The 18-hour gunfight began in Mujgund area, located on the Srinagar-Bandipora highway, at around 5 pm on Saturday evening and ended on 11:30 on Sunday morning. Seven houses were also razed during the gunfight.
Residents said that no militants were present in the Fisheries Colony where the seven houses were destroyed.
A resident, Javaid Ahmed, owner of one of the houses which was damaged, said, The force personnel barged into our homes 15 minutes before the encounter began and told us to leave the house. After checking the house, they left only to return a few minutes later. This time, they forcefully removed us and all of our family members ran in different directions. We all assembled at out uncles residence and stayed the night there. This morning, when we returned home, everything we owned was gone.
Ghulam Mohammad Lami stood in the midst of the debris of his home. He said, We didnt see any militants. Once the cordon was laid, we ran from our homes only to return to this destruction. My savings, gold, copperware, everything turned into ashes. I dont know what to do.
Senior police and CRPF officials however denied charges of using excessive force. A senior police officer said the three militants including two Kashmiri militants were killed in the first few hours of the gunfight but the Pakistani militant continued to engage the forces till Sunday morning.
Wed received a tip-off about their presence in Srinagar a couple of days ago. Once they were cordoned, the militants split up and ran in three different directions. The two locals were killed, but the Pakistani militant evaded us for the night. He kept on moving from one house to another and that is why the forces had to use mortar shells to counter him. He was finally killed in the morning, the officer said.
Locals of the area, however, accused the forces of targeting the houses. The forces used rockets, LMG and mortar shells during the encounter, which resulted in loud bangs through the night, they said
The force personnel said that throughout the encounter and especially after the loud bangs made by the ammunition, youth of the area gathered around the encounter site and started to hurl stones. The stone-pelting continued through Sunday noon.
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