Two CIVILIANS, including a woman, were killed and 16 injured when the Army and police allegedly opened fire on a group of protesters close to the site of an encounter between militants and forces on Sunday. A militant was also killed in the encounter, which took place in Kakpora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Police, however, said the woman was killed in crossfire during the encounter.
The death of the civilians are likely to overshadow formal talks between the PDP and BJP to form a government in Jammu and Kashmir. BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav is likely to meet PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Monday.
Confirming the death of the two civilians, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Mujtaba Gilani told The Indian Express: “The woman was killed in crossfire (between militants and the Army). The other civilian was killed when he was hit by a tear gas shell…. This is what doctors have told us.” Gilani said 10 policemen and two Army personnel were also injured in stone-pelting by protesters.
Witnesses, however, rejected the police version and said the forces opened fire on the protesters near Lelhar village.
“There were hundreds of people playing on a ground in Lelhar when an encounter started in the vicinity. As the youths moved towards the encounter site, the Armymen opened fire,” said an eyewitness.
Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Neeraj Kumar had last week banned assembly of people near encounter sites by imposing Section 144 of CrPC. The authorities say youths often assemble at encounter sites to help militants escape.
The two deceased were identified as Danish Rashid, 19, a B.Tech student of Islamic University of Science and Technology, and Shaista Hameed, 22, a Master’s student in Maulana Azad University.
The slain militant was identified as Adil Ahmad Wagay. He was killed while escaping the cordoned-off area; two of his associates managed to escape.
Block Medical Officer (BMO), Pampore, Dr Showkat Ahmad said the hospital received 13 people —all with bullet and pellet injuries.
Danish, he said, had died by the time he was brought in —he had a bullet wound on his skull. “We have discharged three of the injured and have referred the others to Srinagar.” They received bullet and pellet injuries in abdomen and face, he said.
An official at Pulwama district hospital said Shaista was declared dead on arrival. “She had a bullet injury in her face. Three others had bullet and pellet injuries, while one had a fracture in foot,” the hospital official said.
Villagers claimed Shaista was hit by a bullet when she was watching the protests from the verandah of her house.
Following the deaths, massive protests broke out across Pulwama and in some parts of Srinagar.