Amid protests, clashes, 9-hour-long Shopian siege ends

Srinagar

The nine hour long cordon and search operation that started on Thursday morning in parts of Shopian district, is perhaps the biggest exercise of its kind since late 1990’s.

Acting on a specific tip-off, the forces comprising of Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) and its Special Operations Group (SOG) launched a massive manhunt to nab militants who were believed to be hiding in the area.

KL Image by Shah Hilal

Local witnesses said that helicopters and drones hovered over the area while thousands of troopers patrolled in the area to flush out militants they believe are hiding inside the residential houses.

A police official said, “The operation was launched after a spate of militant attacks and anti-India protests took place in the area in the recent past. It was the biggest operation of its kind in recent years.”

The motive of the operation is to restrict the movement of militants, a police official told Kashmir Life. “We believe recently released militant videos are shot in the same area where the operation was launched.”

It was like reliving 90s era when army asked people to come out of their houses and assemble in a common ground. Later door-to-door search operation was started to nab the militants.

“All entry points leading to Trenz, Tarkwangom, Sugan and other adjoining villages were sealed off since early morning,” said a local. “Even schools children were stopped from going out.”

KL Image by Shah Hilal

As per reports while forces searched small villages, they faced strong resistance in Chitragam, Sugan, Turka Wangam and Darazpora villages. The ensuing clashes in these villages left at least 20 civilians injured; four of them with pellet injuries.

However police said, “Some residents resisted the search, and clashes erupted in at least two villages. Teargas shells and pellet guns were used to chase away the protesters. However, no injuries were reported.”

As siege was lifted at around 3 pm, the retreating forces faced resistance from angry residents. People came out of their houses in large numbers and shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. Locals alleged forces of ransacking their properties, the claims contested by the forces.

After popular militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing Shopian district has emerged as new militant hotbed. According to reports dozens of young people from Shopian have joined militancy since July 8, 2016.

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