by: Umar Khurshid
SRINAGAR: An encounter broke out during wee hours on Tuesday in Shopian resulting in the killing of two militants, one civilian as more than 50 survived with injuries as they protested near the site of gun-battle Kundalan village of Shopian. There were protests in Shopian town as well after the injured started coming to the district hospital.
On July 10, 2018, at around 3:00 am, a joint team of army’s 34 RR, Special Operational Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF, launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) in Kundalan village of Shopain district. The contact was established soon after the first light, residents said.
An official said that they had reports that three to four militants were trapped inside the house of Mohammad Yoquob Parray, son of Mohammad Ramzan Parray, a resident of the Kundalan.
As the news of the gunfight spread in the area, the people of the area, mostly youth took to streets and pelted stones on the mixed contingent busy in the operation. The forces used tear smoke shells, bullets and pellets to disperse them, triggering massive clashes.
Kundalan is strategically located in the region. Located on the road connecting Shopian town with Wanpoh via Kadder, the village has connectivity with Kulgam road and also with the Zainpora road – both starting from Shopian. It is deep in the apple bowl of Kashmir. People came from all the access routes to reach the village. This is despite the fact that a major army unit is stationed barely one kilometer from the spot, at Nagisahran.
During the encounter, two army men including a Junior Commissioning Officer (JCO) suffered bullet injuries. Both of them, officials said, were evacuated to army’s 92 base hospital, Badamibagh, Srinagar for treatment.
A local source said as the news of the encounter spread in Kundalan and its adjoining villages, father of a local militant Zeenat Ahmed Naikoo, from Meamander village Shopian, died due to a heart attack after being told that his son was one of the trapped militants in Kundalan.
“The slain father identified as Issaq Naikoo died due to a heart attack when he came to know that his son Zeenat Ahmed Naikoo is trapped in an encounter,” said a local resident, adding that “the announcements were made on loudspeakers saying Zeenat is trapped in Kundalan.” Zeenat had joined militancy only during the Muslim month of fasting, the Ramzan.
After Naikoo got a heart attack he was immediately referred to Shopian hospital where doctors declared him as brought dead. After the elderly man was driven home for burial, there were protests in the village but no violence was reported.
However, the clashes between young protesters and police were going on in many places in the region. The major one was reported from Kundalan but there were clashes in Shopian and certain parts of Pulwama as well. Three youth were injured during the clashes near the gunfight site. They were shifted to Shopian hospital where from they were referred to Srinagar for specialized treatment.
Later in the day, an official said that two unidentified militants were killed during an ongoing gunfight in Kundalan and more than 30 sustained injuries. The police and CRPF used tear smoke, shotguns and even opened fire as well.
“We have reports of 13 injured being admitted to SMHS hospital, one each to Bone & Joint and SKIMS besides four each to Kulgam and Pulwama,” a senior police officer in Srinagar said. “In Shopian there were six others who were treated locally.”
Dr Zahoor Ahmad, the medical superintendent of District hospital said they referred the seriously injured patients to Srinagar. “We referred six bullet injuries to Srinagar in addition to eight or mine pellet injured to Srinagar,” Dr Zahoor said. “Locally, we treated almost 65-70 patients who had pellets and were managed locally.”
His counterpart in Srinagar, Dr Abdul Rasheed Parra said they received one r two injuries persons who were injured in a local protest. “We did not receive anybody from Shopian,” he said.
Reports said the people drove some of the “visible serious patients” directly to Srinagar.
Police identified one of the two slain militants as Sameer Ahmed Sheikh, a resident of Aiend village of Shopian. Son of Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh, a farmer, he is survived by mother, four sisters and three brothers. Unlike him, his brothers are in different professions: Mohammad Ayoub Sheikh, is a farmer, Abdul Razaq Sheikh is associated with a truck union, and Farooq Ahmed Sheikh, is a professional Molvi. The other slain militant was Babar, a Pakistan resident, according to police.
The civilian death was that of an 18-year old boy. Identified as Tamsheel Khan, son of Khurshid Ahmad Khan, a resident of Vehil-Kachdoora area of Shopian , he was hit by a bullet near the gunfight site and succumbed to his injuries on way to Srinagar hospital. A report said he was enrolled in a local school at Vehil.
Reports said that Khan had suffered bullet wounds in his head after the armed forces fired on protesters. Khan was shifted to District Hospital Shopian initially. From there, Khan along with seven other persons having bullet injuries were referred to different hospitals in Srinagar. Khan was taken to SMHS hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
A police spokesperson issued the following statement.
“Pursuing credible leads regarding the presence of militants in Kundalan area of District Shopian, a joint patrol of the security forces launched searches in the area in the wee hours today.”
“As the searches were going on, militants hiding inside the house fired upon the search party. The search party in their guarded response fired back thereby establishing contact with the militants leading to an encounter. Some of the civilians in the nearby houses were quickly evacuated by the security forces,” the spokesman said.
“During the encounter, all the hiding militants were eliminated successfully by the joint patrol of the security forces. The killed militants were identified as Sameer Ahmad Sheikh a local and Babar from Pakistan. They were affiliated with proscribed militant outfit JeM,” the spokesman added.
“Sameer Ahmad Sheikh son of Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh resident Rawalpora Shopian was a school dropout and had joined the militant outfit JeM after he was reported missing from his home since April 2018,” he said.
“On the basis of documents available the other militant has been identified as Babar a JeM commander of Pakistan origin. They were involved in many attacks on the security establishments and civilian atrocities,” he added.
“Some civilians were also injured in cross firing at the site of encounter who were later evacuated to the hospital for medical attention. One of the injured persons later succumbed to his injuries while the other injured are stated to be stable now,” the spokesman said.
“Some arms and ammunition were also recovered from the encounter site,” he said. “Police has registered a case and investigation has been initiated in the instant matter.”
Meanwhile, Joint Resistance Leadership has appealed the masses to observe strike on tomorrow (Wednesday) July 11, against the civilian killings in Kashmir.
Taking to a social networking site Twitter Mirwaiz in series of tweets wrote: “Kashmir turned into a graveyard of its own people by India forces as 3 more civilians die today and more than 50 injured! young Tamseel directly shot at, while 11th class student Ubaid succumbed to his bullets wounds, elderly Ishaq Naikoo died of cardiac arrest as news of his son (sic).”
In another tweet, he wrote “being under siege reached him! Not even allowed to collectively mourn or protest the killing of our young Martyrs! Every attempt repressed as leadership & activists caged detained or jailed! JRL appeals people to observe #Strike tomorrow to register our protest & condemnation. People and leadership will march against #KashmirKillings and assemble at #MartyrsGraveyard Naqshband Sb on July 13, a landmark day in our Resistance to oppression. We also appeal to all nations & every human to help stop the massacre of #Kashmiris at the hands of #IndianArmedForces! (sic).”
Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) an umbrella of Trade bodies headed by Haji Mohammed Yasin Khan has supported the Kashmir wide shut down call given by Joint Resistance leadership (JRL) against continuous civilian killings.