ARMY Thursday issued a strong warning to those trying to take law in their hands during security operations across the Valley. In a new trend seen lately, locals assemble at encounter sites, trying to break the security cordon in a reported bid to provide an escape route to trapped militants.
“In case the crowd takes law in its hands and threatens life and property, security forces will be constrained to initiate appropriate action to counter it,’’ said an Army spokesperson in a statement. He was responding to allegations over the Ashimuqam incident where residents have accused Army of opening fire on civilians without any provocation. Two civilians were injured in the incident, and one of them is critical.
“A joint operation was launched by the Army and J&K Police Tuesday in Ashimuqam based on specific information regarding presence of some militants in Magrey Mohalla. As the operations were in progress, a large crowd of approximately 1000 people gathered at the site to disrupt the operations in clear violation of existing orders which had also been recently reiterated by the police,” said the spokesperson.
He also accused “unscrupulous, rogue elements” in the crowd of throwing stones at the security forces.
“Despite the provocation, the security forces exercised full restraint in trying to dissuade the crowd from interfering with their operations. However, not paying any heed, the crowd responded by pelting stones, shouting inflammatory slogans and started closing in with the security forces, resulting in injury to more than a dozen personnel including a JCO of the Army and an ASI of J&K Police,” said the spokesperson.
He added that an investigation into the incident had established that the security forces were forced to open cautionary fire to prevent any further injury to personnel and loss or damage of equipment.
On Wednesday, National Conference leader and Pahalgam MLA, Altaf Kaloo, had accused the Army of trying to influence the elections of Jamia Masjid Ashimuqam on the insistence of some vested interests.
“Some people with vested interests don’t want elections, so they got Army into the village. Without any provocation, the men of 3 RR opened fire on the villagers…Instead of holding elections in December, the administration kept on delaying it. Now, when the dates are decided, and people were waiting for the DC and other officials to come to the mosque, the Army came and started searching the area and then opened fire on villagers without any provocation,’’ he said, adding that even the top police officials of the area were not informed about the operation.
While Anantnag’s deputy commissioner has already announced a magisterial probe, villagers have been demanding a judicial probe.
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