SRINAGAR: Civilian protestors on Thursday compelled the government forces to call off a cordon-and-search operation (CASO) in Pahalgam area of this south Kashmir district, police said.
A police official said following a tip-off about presence of militants, the soldiers of Army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles and cops of Special Operation Group of police cordoned off Wularhama village in Dachnipora belt of Pahalgam and launched searches. “As the forces tried to zero in on the house where the militants were believed to be hiding, they came under heavy stone-pelting by youth following which the operation was called off,” he said.
He said that militants, believed to be three, took advantage of stone-pelting and managed to escape.
Witnesses said as the word about militants being holed up in the village spread, people raised an alarm and made announcements through public address systems of Masjids. “In no time, people including women hit the streets and clashed with forces. The government forces first lobbed numerous teargas shells but as people refused to relent, they resorted to heavy aerial firing,” they said. “Protesters offered stiff resistance, forcing the government forces to call off the search operation.”
People in Danchnipora villages of Pahalgam and Bijbehara alleged that government forces later harassed people. “The forces carried out frisking of people. The passengers were bought down from vehicles and asked to walk several meters on foot,” residents of Kanelawn village of Bijbehara told Greater Kashmir over phone.
Pertinently, the government forces have been of late facing tough time while carrying out anti-militancy operations particularly in south Kashmir where people have been coming out to help militants escape.
On Tuesday evening, a college student Aadil Farooq Magray was killed when people clashed with forces during a search operation in Ganawpora village of Shopian.
Last month, a civilian was killed and scores of others injured as people tried to march towards an encounter site in Saimoh village of Tral. The Hizb commander Sabzar and his associate Faizan were killed in the gunbattle while locals helped two other militants escape.
In February, two civilians were killed in protests during an encounter in Frisal village of Kulgam district in which four militants were also gunned down, while three others escaped. Two army men were also killed and two others injured in the 15-hour encounter which ended after the house was raised to ground by using IEDs.