Thousands gather to disrupt Army operation in Pulwama
3 militants, civilian killed during 2 encounters; doctors certify Pulwama civilian's body had no injuries, no fractures
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, March 9: Amid intense stone pelting and pro-Pakistan slogans from unruly crowds, Police and security forces on Thursday killed two Kashmiri militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba in a fierce encounter at Padgampora village in South Kashmir's hypersensitive Pulwama district even as a civilian succumbed to a gunshot injury outside the hamlet and another civilian was found dead in mysterious conditions.
A number of residents, speaking on condition of anonymity to STATE TIMES, insisted that a civilian driver Jalal-ud-din of Tahab died "after he was hit in his head with a stone or a gun by security forces". They alleged that he was the second civilian, after 18-year-old Aamir Nazir Wani of Begam Bagh, who was killed by Police and security forces after two militants were killed in an encounter at Padgampora.
Valley's separatist leadership alleged that the Police and security forces had for the first time on Thursday translated the Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat's February 16th threat into action and killed two civilians in cold blood. It called for a total shutdown in Kashmir to protest the killings on Friday.
Director General of Police Dr Shesh Pal Vaid, however, dismissed the allegation as "totally incorrect" and told STATE TIMES that it was nothing but part of propaganda to defame the Police and security forces. He, as well as DIG South Kashmir Swayam Prakash Pani, maintained that the Police and security forces "despite high provocation" observed maximum restraint while conducting the operation and dealing with the hostile crowds outside. They said that the Police and security forces conducted a "completely neat and clean operation with total professionalism".
"Someone from the crowds fired on our boys and two of them had a narrow escape. With gunshot injuries, we have rushed them to hospital. Around a dozen of our men were injured in stone pelting", DGP said. "Clearly some terrorists had mixed up with the stone pelters".
DIG Pani said that head constable Khalid Hussain with gunshot injuries was rushed to Srinagar and admitted to Army's 92 Base Hospital while as SPO Manzoor Ahmad was under treatment at District Hospital Pulwama. DGP said that DH Pulwama had certified that the civilian Jalal-ud-din had no injuries on his body. He claimed that Aamir, who was among the stone pelters, had got fatally hit "by a stray bullet". "We are not responsible for their death", DGP asserted.
Medical Superintendent DH Pulwama Dr Abdul Rashid Parra corroborated DGP's statement and said: "Jalal-ud-din was brought dead. A team of about 6 doctors headed by Dr Mir Mushtaq examined his body. It had no signs of life. We performed artificial resuscitation but it didn't work. Then we conducted ECG. It was totally flat. Thereafter we conducted head-to-toe examination of the dead body. We observed that it had absolutely no external injuries including bullet or pellet injuries. We then used X-ray to check if there were any fractures or internal injuries. We found none and declared him brought dead".
Dr Parra said that the team of doctors had no means to ascertain where the civilian had died and how. "The prople in a surcharged atmosphere took away the body and did not let us conduct a detailed autopsy to ascertain the cause of death. We can do it only with the permission and request of the family concerned", Dr Parra said. He believed that the cause of death could be "most probably cardiac arrest" but maintained that the actual circumstances leading to the civilian's death could be ascertained only through a detailed investigation.
"If we have no hesitation in saying that we received 3 patients with gunshot injuries and 7 with pellet injuries, what should make us tell a lie to please anyone. We don't act under any influence, fear or intervention from any quarter. The fact is that there were absolutely no injuries or fractures ", Dr Parra said.
Earlier two local militants of LeT were killed in the fierce gunfight. DIG said that Jehangir Ganai of Koil was killed during last night but Mohammad Shafi Shergujri was eliminated in the afternoon on Thursday. He said that SSP Pulwama Mohammad Rayees Bhat got Shergujri's wife and son and they requester him through PAS of a bulletproof bunker to come out and surrender before the SSP. But even after the family made repeatedly requests, Shergujri refused to come out. Thereafter he was killed in exchange of gunfire.
Shafi Shergujri of Bandarpora was a top wanted LeT militant. NIA had carried out different raids to arrest him as he was wanted in a fidayeen attack in Udhampur. According to NIA, Shergujri had helped Pakistani militant Naveed and his associates to reach Samroli Udhampur where they carried out a fidayeen attack on a BSF convoy. Naveed was later arrested in the same area.
Shergujri's militant brother Aadil Shergujri had been killed by security forces in an encounter in Lelhaar village of Pulwama last year.
Meanwhile, one militant of Hizbul Mujahideen was killed in Bandipora in an encounter with forces, while as an army Major was injured late on Thursday.
The militant has been identified as Mushtaq Ahmad of Bandipora. He was killed when police and army laid a checkpoint outside police station Bandipora following specific inputs.
“During the checking, a militant travelling in a vehicle opened fire in which an army Major of 14 RR was injured. The militant was killed in retaliatory fire,” police said.