Srinagar, June 22: The year 2017 might go down as one of those periods in the recent history of Kashmir during which a high number of protestors were killed at the sites of shooting between the government forces and militants.
According to figures compiled by the crime branch of the police, 78 of such protestors were killed at those sites while trying to save militants from being killed by the government forces.
After the uprising of 2016, triggered by the killing of the charismatic Hizbul Mujahidin militant commander, Burhan Muzzafar Wani, people started thronging encounter sites and pelted stones at the government forces in a bid to give safe passage to the trapped militants. To stop people from thronging encounter sites, an advisory was issued by the Jammu and Kashmir police and Army, asking people to stay away from encounter sites to ensure smooth counter- insurgency operations, but the advisory had no takers. For people would prefer risking their lives than seeing a militant dying.
In the month of April, the data says, 15 civilians were killed at the encounter sites. And in the next month- May- 11 civilians lost their lives in order to save the lives of the holed up militants.
The killings, however, didn’t deter the civilians who would continue to show their presence at the encounter sites. In July 11 civilians were killed, and in March and August eight such protestors were killed.
Similarly, seven civilians were killed in Octover. In December four, In January, June, September and November three in each month and in the month of February two civilians lost their lives.
Also, 172 civilians were injured at the encounter sites in 2017, the crime Gazette reveals. Majority of the injuries have taken place in the month of March (31), July (47) and September (48).
Compared to 2016 – when 48 civilians were killed and 130 injured at the encounter site- year 2017 have been the deadliest. Interestingly, in July 2016 when protests have erupted in entire Kashmir after the dead of Burhan Wani and civilian casualties have become a norm, 17 civilians had died at the encounter sites in that month as well.
With mounting civilian casualties, director general of Police (DGP), again, has urged the youth not to throng the encounter sites as they are not marriage venues. He has said that youth are responsible for their deaths as bullet don’t distinguish between a protestor and a militant. But again, the pleas had fallen to deaf ears, as the civilians continue to gather at the encounter sites.