“Even as the police stopped people from converging, many thousands joined the funeral prayers of the militants who were buried in the local grave yard.”
SRINAGAR: A day after five civilians were rescued and three militants killed in a 35-hour stand-off in Palnoo village of Kulgam district, thousands of people on Tuesday staged protest demonstrations in the area against the damage caused to the mosque and alleged atrocities by the security forces.
As the midnight offensive launched by 62 Rashtriya Rifles and Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Special Operations Group ended with the killing of three top Hizbul Mujahideen and the safe return of five civilians taken hostage by them, the people went on the rampage on learning that the mosque in which the militants were hiding had been damaged in the fight. They locals alleged that the security forces had “let loose a reign of terror against the population.”
A complete shutdown was observed in the area. The authorities, fearing a strong reaction, had sealed all the roads leading to Palnoo. The entry points from Bijbehara, Yaripora and Balsoo were sealed and the people were not even allowed to walk on the
As the crowd demanding a “honourable burial” for the militants surged and sought to reach Palnoo, it led to a clash with the police. The security forces then resorted to lathi-charge and later used tear smoke shells to disperse the crowd. Pitched battles continued and at least 15 civilians were injured.
A group of photo-journalists complained that they were prevented by the police from discharging their duties and were attacked by the SOG personnel. The injured were identified as Tassaduq Rashid, Zahoor Sodagar, Fida Hussain, Javed Shah and Basharat Ahmad.
A local, Murtaza Ahmad, said the SOG personnel looted their houses and beat up people ruthlessly. Even as the police stopped people from converging, many thousands joined the funeral prayers of the militants who were buried in the local grave yard.
DIG South Kashmir H.K. Lohia refuted the locals” allegations and said some vested interests, including Hurriyat leaders, were trying instigating the people. No major damage was caused to the mosque, he said and added that that the people should also realise that the militants had kept the civilians hostage for two days and made them human shields.
A Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman, in a statement, paid tributes to the slain militants and said “they preferred martyrdom to surrender and that speaks about the devotion of the Mujahideen to the cause.”