For the first time in over a decade, security forces on Sunday killed as many as 11 militants in a day in three encounters in the Kashmir valley. The operations also left three armymen dead and quite a few security personnel injured. Three civilians, too, were killed, two of them during firing on protestors by security forces while another body was found near an encounter site.
Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid told reporters that the security forces began operations based on specific information about the presence of militants at three places in south Kashmir.
Operations were launched in Peth Dialgam in Anantnag district on Saturday evening after learning that two local militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen were hiding in a house in the area.
The Anantnag SSP tried to convince the militants to surrender. “He called the families of the two militants and let them speak to the ultras on phone to convince them to give up,” the DGP said. But the militants refused to yield and opened fire.
“In the retaliatory fire, a militant identified as Rouf Khanday was killed while another was captured,” he said. Rouf had joined militancy early this year and his picture with an AK-47 rifle had gone viral in the last week of March.
Elsewhere in the valley, the police, CRPF and army launched search operations in Dragad and Kachudoora areas of Shopian district in the night after receiving inputs about the presence of militants. Seven militants were killed in the Dragad encounter. Police said the body of civilian Mushtaq Ahmad Thoker was found along with the bodies of militants.
The army lost three soldiers in Kachudoora – Sepoy Hetram of Sonigasar Godard in Bikaner; Gunner Nilesh Singh of Nagri, in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh; and Gunner Arvinder Kumar of Sariana in Hoshairpur, Punjab.
Killers of Lt Fayyaz liquidated
Two of the slain militants were involved in the killing of young army officer Umar Fayyaz in Shopian in May last, according to GoC 15 Corps Lt Gen A K Bhatt.
Top security forces officials in Kashmir on Sunday said that anti-militancy operations would continue in the Valley, and again urged local militants to surrender. “I will like to make it clear that our operations against militants will not stop,” Zulfiqar Hassan, IG, CRPF, said at a joint press conference with Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, GoC, 15 Corps, and SP Vaid, DGP. Referring to people marching to encounter sites, the IG said some people, under the influence of anti-national elements, went near the encounter sites and tried to disturb the operations.
“We will tackle the crowd with restraint but won’t shy away from taking very strict action,” Hassan said. People should stay away from the encounter sites as there’s strong likelihood that “anybody can get killed or hurt”, he warned. Bhatt appealed to Kashmiri youth not to get carried away by Pakistan or its proxies and take to the path of violence.
He warned that anybody who took up the gun and resorted to violence would be eliminated. Vaid appealed to local militants to surrender. “It is painful for all of us to see the loss of young lives. I appeal to the parents of boys who have taken the wrong path that they should convince their wards to leave the path of violence,” he said. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief over the death of two civilians and paid tributes to the Army men killed.
Separatists call for shutdown
Srinagar: Two of the slain militants were involved in the killing of army officer Umar Fayyaz in Shopian last May, according to Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, GoC, 15 Corps. As the encounters at Dragad and Kanchidora erupted, youth attempted to march towards the encounter sites to help the militants escape. Security personnel fired tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets to disperse them. Over 70 people sustained injuries and two of them died later. The authorities suspended mobile Internet and train services. Separatist leaders called for a shutdown on Sunday and Monday.