Turkawangam Encounter: The Complete Story

by Umar Khurshid 

Srinagar: Almost after 15 hours, the counter-insurgent forces called off the cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) after the trapped militants, believed to be five in number, escaped from Turkawangam village in Shopian district. There was a gun battle as well and many people were injured. But eventually, the militants managed their escape.

A dead body of Umar Kumar who was killed near the gunfight site in Turkawangam village of Shopian.

A cordon and search operation was launched by a joint team of Army and Special Operation Group of police in Turkawangam village on Wednesday afternoon. It was in response to specific inputs about the presence of the militants in the village.

The CASO later turned into the gun battle after the exchange of gun fires started from both the sides. An official said they had an input of the presence of three militants in the village. Later that night, the militant trio are believed have managed to escape. Though not confirmed by police, reports suggest a subedar-major of army was injured in the gunfight. The injured officer was evacuated to army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar for treatment where his condition is said to be stable now.

As soon as the news of gunfight spread, the youth took to streets and clashed with them. They resorted to stone pelting. The forces fired live ammunition, pellets and tear gas into the protesters near the gunfight site, resulting in the death of a youth Umar Kumar of Pinjoora village of Shopian and injuries to around 25 others.

A view of mourners carrying the body of slain Umar Kumar who was killed near the gunfight site in Shopian

Umar was laid to rest on Thursday morning and thousands of mourners attended his funeral prayers at his native village in Pinjoora village.

The emotions went high and people were seen wailing and beating their chest as the parents of Umar laid the School uniform shirt of Umar over his body.

Thousands of mourners including women and children were seen wailing and crying when the body of 14 years old Umar was taken for burial, witnesses said adding women and children especially his classmates showered toffees and flowers on Umar’s body.

Umar, the younger child of his parents is an orphan and is survived by four sisters and four brothers. His one among four sisters is divorced and his brothers are working as chiefs.

Residents alleged that police and CRPF destroyed two houses, including the one belonging to the father-in-law of a militant, who was believed to be there during CASO. Identified as Zeenat ul Islam, the militant has relations in the village. Islam actually hails from Sugan village and is an active militant since early 2015. He had escaped during a cordon-and-search operation near his native village at Draggad- Sugan on April 1, along with four of his associates in which seven Hizb militants were killed.

While militants had managed their escape, the counter-insurgency grid continued the siege. It was during these searches that residents alleged harassment and damage to their property.

Because of Umar’s killing, the entire belt observed a shutdown. It included Shopian, Pulwama and Islamabad.

While Pulwama and Shopian districts remained closed for the fourth consecutive day, Islamabad observed shutdown to mourn the killing of the civilian in Turkwangam village yesterday. All shops and other business establishments are closed in the three districts while traffic is off the roads.

The internet services were also snapped in the Pulwama, Shopian and then later in Islamabad districts of South Kashmir. The Srinagar-Banihal train service also remained suspended as a “precautionary measure” to avoid any untoward incident.

Umar’s killing was later condemned by the separatists as well as political leaders including Hurriyat (G) chairman Geelani, JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik, Umar Farooq, CPI (M) leader MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Jammu and Kashmir Muslim league and others.

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