Encounter in Heart of Srinagar; 3 Militants, Woman Killed

Forces personnel near the site of encounter in Batamaloo area of Srinagar- KO Photos: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: Hundreds of people on Thursday protested in Batamaloo area of this capital city after a pre-dawn encounter in the area left three militants and a woman dead, while two CRPF personnel, including an officer, were injured.

Around 2:30 am, state forces launched a cordon and search operation in Firdous Abad locality of Batamaloo following specific information about presence of militants, officials here said.

According to police, besieged militants turned down surrender offer and opened fire on a joint column of forces resulting in injuries to a CRPF Deputy Commandant Rahul Mathur and a woman identified as Kousar Jan.

“The lady succumbed to her injuries on the spot while the injured CRPF Officer was shifted to hospital for treatment for his injuries,” police said.

However, the son of the deceased woman contested the police claim that she was killed in the crossfire between state forces and the besieged militants.

A local news agency KNT quoted Kousar’s son Aqib Reyaz as saying that he and his mother were fired upon by the government forces when they were retreating from the area where they run a bakery shop.

“My mother died instantly after government forces fired at us,” he added.

Pertinently this is the fourth encounter in the capital city this year. Earlier similar exchanges took place in Nawakadal, Zoonimar and Malabagh areas. At least five forces personnel have also been killed in three separate militant attacks in Srinagar this year.

Police identified the slain militants as Zakir Ahmad Paul of Shopian, Ubair Mushtaq Bhat of Kulgam and Adil Hussain Bhat of Awantipora saying all of them belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen.

According to the witnesses, the killings triggered protests in the area. Scores of youth hit the streets and clashed with government forces deployed in the area in huge numbers.

“The government forces fired pellets and burst tear smoke shells to disperse the stone pelting youth. However, the angry protesters regrouped and continued renewed attacks on the police and paramilitary forces. The ding-dong battles continued for several hours,” Farooq Ahmad Bhat, a local told Kashmir Observer.

He said that thousands of people turned up at the funeral of the woman amidst intense sloganeering on Thursday evening.

All Slain Militants Local: DGP

Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said that three militants were killed in the encounter and all were locals from south Kashmir.

Addressing a press conference at the Police Control Room (PCR) Srinagar, the DGP said that in the early hours of the day, state forces, while acting on a lead, zeroed in on a house where the militants were hiding.

“They were given a chance to surrender, but they refused and fired. One CRPF officer and another CRPF man sustained injuries in the initial exchange of firing. The officer is critical and we are praying for his recovery,” Singh said.

He added that the forces conducted the operation in a professional manner and killed all the three militants.

“However, a woman was caught in the crossfire. Her death is very unfortunate, and we express sympathy with the bereaved family,” the DGP said.

The DGP was accompanied by IGP, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar and IG, CRPF, Srinagar sector, Charu Sinha.

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