Soldier, 7 stone-pelters, three terrorists killed in Pulwama
A soldier and three terrorists were killed in a fierce gunbattle, while seven stonepelters were also killed in the crossfire when they tried to protect the terrorists and provide them a safe passage by pelting stones at the security forces during an encounter in Pulwama district early Saturday morning.
The security personnel apparently used pellet guns first to disperse the stonepelters, but the situation worsened when the locals came in between them and the retreating terrorists, forcing them to use firearms. The incident occurred during a midnight operation in an orchard at Sirnoo village of South Kashmir when the security forces surrounded the area after receiving a tipoff about a group of terrorists holed up there.
According to police and hospital sources, dozens of injured stone-pelters are being treated in different city hospitals, while the condition of eight of them is critical. Doctors attending on those undergoing treatment in SMHS and SKIMS hospitals said that many of the injured have received pellet injuries also. Protests broke out in the Valley as the news spread to other areas.
The Joint Resistance Leadership ( JRL), an alliance of top separatist leaders of Kashmir, has given a shutdown call for three days to mourn the deaths. Both political and separatist leaders have blamed Governor Satya Pal Malik for the incident.
As a precautionary measure, the authorities have suspended internet services across Kashmir and have also suspended Banihal-Baramulla rail service immediately after the incident. A senior police officer told The Sunday Guardian that they have taken all possible measures, including deployment of additional forces at all the sensitive places, to stop violence.
Restrictions will also be imposed here in the city on Sunday in view of the proposed protests, the official added.
For the first time in the recent past, People’s Conference leader Sajjad Gani Lone said that the Governor’s administration needed to “seriously evaluate” the costs of such anti-militancy operations in Kashmir with diminishing returns. In a tweet, he said, “If there is even a remote chance of civilians getting killed dur- ing military operations, it is better to call off such operations.”
People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “No probe enough to bring back the dead innocent civilians. South Kashmir has been reeling under fear for the last six months. This is what was expected from Gov rule? The admin has failed in securing civilian lives.”
In his tweet, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: “Another bloodsoaked weekend in Kashmir. Reports of many injured at the encounter site. What a horrible day!”
Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted, “Bullets and pellets rain! As Govt of India has decided to kill Kashmiris through its #ArmedForces who control us. JRL and people will march towards Badami Bagh Army cantonment on Monday 17 Dec to ask GOI to kill all of us at one time rather than killing us daily.”
Other political leaders like Ghulam Hassan Mir also condemned the killings. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral defeat in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh seems to have emboldened its partners in the National Democratic Alliance led by it and they are likely to put pressure on the party to give more seats to them in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
According to sources, Shiv Sena has expressed its desire to contest half of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. On the other hand, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujaral has said that his party would like the BJP to quickly settle the seat-sharing issue with allies.
This comes close on the heels of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha pulling out of the alliance and resigning as Minister of State in the Narendra Modi gov-
An injured person being taken for treatment in Pulwama district on Saturday.