June 2017 News

Protesters Hamper Another Search Ops, Aid Militants' Escape In South Kashmir

7 June 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: A group of militants managed to escape from a village cordoned off in south Kashmir's Shopian district last night in yet another incident of a flash mob clashing with security forces to aid the escape of gunmen. The security forces had cordoned off several houses at Ganawpora village in Shopian on Tuesday evening. The forces had 'specific input' regarding the presence of militants inside one of the houses cordoned off, senior police officers said. The militants, however, managed to escape as protests erupted in the village, distracting the security forces personnel. A police officer said the militants escaped due to multiple factors, including 'stone-throwing and cover of darkness'. The officer said nearly 200 residents of Ganawpora started throwing stones at the security forces personnel as soon as the village was cordoned off. In the past two years, dozens of militants have managed to escape as local residents clashed with the security forces during counter-insurgency operations. The trend of civilians clashing with the security forces - engaged in the initial stage of conducting cordon and search operations or the later stage of battling militants - to aid the escape of militants has gained ground in the districts of south Kashmir in recent months. Almost all counter-insurgency operations conducted in recent months in south Kashmir districts have been accompanied by protests. The continued belligerence of civilians has drawn warnings from top echelons of the security forces, including Army Chief Bipin Rawat. As protesters clashed with the security forces at Ganawpora last night, a brief exchange of fire also took place between the security forces and militants, which confirmed their presence in the village, police officers said. At least two militants were believed to have been in the area cordoned off. Sources identified the militant duo as Zahid Mir and Syed Naveed, a former cop who joined militant ranks last month. The situation, however, escalated when one protester was killed. Adil Farooq Magray of Ganawpora village was hit by a bullet and later succumbed at a hospital, the police said. Immediately after the killing of the protester, the authorities imposed a shutdown of 3G and 4G Internet services in the Kashmir valley. The protests were held against Magray's killing in south Kashmir, including Shopian and the neighbouring Pulwama district. The shutdown of Internet services has now become a regular feature for the state government. The Internet services have been completely or partially blocked five times since the April byelection, which was shadowed by large-scale violence. 30 injured in fresh clashes : Protests and clashes between protesters and police forces took place in different areas of the Kashmir valley on Wednesday against the killing of a youth in Shopian district on Tuesday evening. At least 30 youth, mostly students, were injured in these clashes in Pulwama and Shopian districts of south Kashmir. The authorities have ordered suspension of classwork in higher educational institutions for the next two days.