THREE persons were killed Tuesday and another 25 injured when residents of Durbugh Chadoora in Budgam district of the Valley obstructed a security operation and tried to help a militant flee from a house where he had holed up. The militant was also killed in the gunbattle.
J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said attempts were made to persuade the militant to lay down his weapon. “Nothing can be achieved with violence. Whatever can be achieved has to be through dialogue and peace,’’ she said. She appealed to parents to keep their children away from encounter sites and stone-throwing crowds because “these places are not free from danger”.
CRPF DIG Sanjay Kumar was quoted by ANI news agency as saying 43 CRPF jawans were injured and that police had reported 20 of their men were injured in stone pelting. He called on residents to steer clear of their operations and not pose any obstruction.
Meanwhile, separatists have called for a day-long strike in the Valley on Wednesday to protest the killings. In a joint statement, separatist leaders called for protests on Friday as well. Examinations and train services scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled in view of the strike call.
On Tuesday morning, acting on information that militant Touseef Ahmad Wagey was hiding in a house in Durbugh, security forces laid a cordon to start a search. While the operation was underway, residents came out and started hurling stones at policemen who formed the outer cordon.
The clashes intensified as the day progressed. Security forces fired pellets and then opened fire. The three protesters who died were identified as Zahid Rashid Gania (21) of Chadoora, Saquib Rashid (19) of Wathoora and Ishfaq Ahmad (27) of Rangreth.
Dr Nazir Choudhary, Medical Superintendent of the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, said four youths were brought to the hospital from Budgam. He said three died while the fourth was being treated for a head injury.
Police prevented relatives of Gania from taking his body to his village and this led to more protests.
Daliar Singh, Block Medical Officer of Chadoora, said 23 injured were brought to the hospital. “The injured had pellet and bullet injuries. One of the injured was shifted to the SMHS Hospital in the evening,” he said.
“One militant has been killed and his body and weapon have been recovered. Sanitising operation is underway,’’ the Army spokesman said.
Officials said Wagey of Kanjikul Kulgam was affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen and was a Category C militant.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Two civilian killed many injured on the sidelines of Chadoora encounter. The tragedy that is # Kashmir continues to unfold.’’