Chadoora in Kashmir's Budgam district was on the boil today after three civilians died were killed in clashes with security forces.
The clashes erupted after a militant was shot dead in an encounter Tuesday morning. Locals protested at the encounter site and pelted stones at the CRPF and police personnel present on the spot.
The civilian deaths are the highest near any encounter site this year, and separatist leaders have called for a shutdown in the Valley on Wednesday in protest of the casualties.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- An encounter broke out Tuesday morning between militants and the security forces in Chadoora in Kashmir's Budgam district. One militant was shot dead and the houses he was holed up in was burnt down by forces. The encounter came just two days after two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen members were gunned down by forces in south Kashmir's Pulwama district.
- Soon after the encounter began, locals started protesting at the site, even pelting stones at the security personnel present on the spot. Three youngsters - Zahid Rashid Ganie, Saqib Ahmad, Ishfaq Ahmad - later succumbed to injuries sustained in retaliatory firing for the CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police jawans.
- Speaking to news agency ANI, CRPF Deputy Inspector General Dr Sanjay Kumar called today's encounter and the subsequent clashes a "really difficult" situation, saying the forces were fighting on two fronts. One was against the militants and other was the local people. Out of them, few people really made our day difficult. There was a "lot of commotion, stone pelting (and) abusing," he added.
- A total of 63 security personnel were injured in the stone pelting, Kumar said. 43 CRPF jawans were injured and 20 policemen were hurt in the violence, which ANI sources said Pakistan had a role to play in.
- Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed deep anguish over the civilian deaths, saying, "It is highly painful to see the young boys losing their lives."We know there are issues that need to be addressed and resolved but no one will be able to do anything at a point when violence becomes a norm," she added.
- CRPF DIG also issued an appeal, asking locals to let security forces carry out their operations unhindered. "I believe that the people of Kashmir should let law take its own course and not obstruct the operation as the operations are against militants. They should let us do our duty," he told ANI.
- Meanwhile, separatist leaders in the Valley, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, have called for a complete shutdown on Wednesday. They leaders condemned the deaths the of three youngsters in Chadoora and also urged people to hold protests after prayers on Friday.
- Meanwhile, railway services will remain suspended in the Valley on Wednesday, considering the grim law and order situation.