April 2000 News

Seven killed in Anantnag firing, curfew imposed

3 April 2000
Hindustan Times

Jammu: INDEFINITE curfew was imposed today on the South Kashmir town of Anantnag following the killing of seven persons in police firing at Barkhpur on the outskirts of the town when a huge procession protesting against the disappearance of 10 villagers turned violent. Later, the Army staged a flag march and authorities issued shoot-at-sight orders. Reports reaching here said the processionists raised slogans against the Government and security forces, charging the latter with killing 10 persons in fake encounters following the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chitti Singhpora village of Anantnag district on March 20 night. Trouble began after the police and CRPF personnel attempted to stop the procession, which had started from the Kothar area close to Kokkernag, from reaching Anantnag town. This was resisted by the processionists, which started pelting stones. In the ensuing tug-of-war, the police, reportedly unable to control the mob fury, opened fire killing seven persons on the spot and wounding five others. However, some reports from the area said that the police had opened fire in retaliation to gunshots fired by militants in the procession. ''We are looking into the whole episode,'' observed Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, Minister of State for Home. He told The Hindustan Times that the reports were being verified. Anantnag and its adjoining areas have been witnessing massive demonstrations since March 26 after the Army and the State police claimed to have killed five of the militants involved in the massacre at Chitti Singhpora. The locals, however, have alleged that the missing persons had actually been killed in fake encounters. Earlier this morning, the Home Minister told the State Assembly that the chief judicial magistrate had already instituted an inquiry into the allegation and the inquiry report was likely to be submitted on April 6. He reiterated that all out efforts were being made to ascertain the facts. The Minister said that in an encounter on March 25 in Pathribal Panchalthan village, nine kms south of Chitti Singhpora, five persons had been killed. Charred bodies of three of them were found from the house in which they were hiding. The house had caught fire. Two more bodies were found of which one was recovered from a nallah in disfigured condition. The killed persons were reportedly clad in Army fatigues. In the incident, the police reportedly recovery of 5 AK rifles, two grenade launchers, two wireless sets and eight grenades. The Minister said that this had given rise to rumours that those killed in the operation of March 25 were actually missing persons. Subsequently, four more missing persons were ''identified'' as those killed in encounters later. 9 militants killed: The Army today killed nine militants and two Pakistani soldiers and claimed to have foiled a ''major infiltration bid by militants'' in Kerni sector of Poonch district. A spokesman of the Army said that armymen detected movement of 40-odd armed men close to the LoC in Kerni sector. After the intruders were challenged, a firefight ensued in which nine militants and two Pakistani soldiers were killed. Srinagar: Ten persons, including two militants and a cleric, have been killed as militants bombed a house and clashed with security forces in Kashmir valley last evening, reports PTI. Three militants were arrested and security forces smashed a hideout recovering some arms and ammunition, an official spokesman said here today.


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