A 14-year-old boy was killed and at least 15 others injured Wednesday as security forces opened fire at protesters, who allegedly pelted security personnel with stones to allow trapped Hizbul militants escape during an encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian. The incident comes hours after a class II student suffered a head injury when the school bus carrying him was attacked by stone pelters in the district.
A joint team of Army, police and paramilitary forces had cordoned off Turkwangam village in Shopian on Wednesday evening following inputs about presence of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zeenat-ul-Islam and his three associates in the village. A gunfight broke out between the militants and the security forces, as the latter tightened the cordon in the area.
According to sources, the security forces opened fire when a large number of youth from Turkwangam and surrounding villages reached the encounter site and started to lob stones at the security forces to help the militants escape. Umar Ahmad Kumar (14), a resident of Pinjoora village in Shopian, was killed in the firing taking the total number of civilians deaths at encounter sites to 10, since April 1.
On April 1, four civilians were killed at Shopian’s Kachdora, when the villagers tried to help militants escape. Four more civilian protesters were killed at Khudwani in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on April 11. On April 30, one more civilian was killed at Drabgam village of Pulwama.
“He (Umar) was brought dead to hospital,” Dr Zahoor Ahmad Malik, Medical Superintendent of Shopian told The Indian Express. “We also received five injured at the hospital. They had been hit by pellets.”
Another critically-injured teenager Inayat Ahmad Dar was referred to Shri Maharja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar for specialized treatment, where he was operated upon. His condition is said to be stable.
Sources say, 15 civilians sustained injuries — four were hit by bullets, while 11 others sustained pellet injuries — in Wednesday’s action. Meanwhile, the police said security forces were searching the area, even as unconfirmed reports said the militants might have escaped after the initial gunfight.