Srinagar: Authorities on Tuesday clamped curfew in Lalpora area of North Kashmir’s Lolab Valley after massive anti-India protests broke out against the killings of seven alleged militants in an encounter with government forces.
At least a dozen people, including two senior paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force and police officers were injured in the violent clashes.
On Tuesday, army had claimed to have killed a group of seven militants in a fierce gunfight in Dardpora forests, about 120 kms from state’s summer capital Srinagar. The army, however, didn’t identify the slain militants causing anguish among the locals.
Hundreds of people from Dardpora, Tikipora, Darpora, Rangwar Diver, and other areas assembled outside the local police station after rumors spread in the area that the slain militants were civilians, who had gone to the forests to collect the firewood.
Chanting slogans, the protesters were asking police to allow them to see the bodies. However, police refused to allow the people inside the police station saying that ‘the doctors were conducting post mortem of the bodies’.
As more people joined the protests, angry and curios protesters attacked the police station with stones and tried to barge in. Some protesters managed to sneak into the compound and set ablaze two police pickets, besides causing damage to at least half a dozen forces’ vehicles.
Abdul Khaliq, who is the village headman of Lalpora, said that the protests erupted after people demanded police to show the bodies of slain militants. “Some people had suspicion that the slain might be their kin, so in order to remove apprehensions they went to police station, but the police denied the permission,” he said.
Official sources said that a senior officer of CRPF, an officer of Jammu and Kashmir Police, three other policemen, and two media men were among the dozen people injured in clashes. The injured CRPF officer was identified as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Taasho Sahu, while the police officer was identified as Assistant Sub-inspector Abdul Majeed. The injured media persons have been identified as Amin War of Chandigarh-based The Tribune and Mubashir Hussain of New Delhi-based News24 Television. The car of Daily Excelsior photo-journalist, Abid Nabi was also damaged during clashes. He said that his laptop and camera also got damaged.
“We received one injured person. He had suffered minor injury,” Block Medical Officer (BMO) Sogam, Dr Tahir Ahmad said. Fearing escalation in protests authorities imposed curfew in the area.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kupwor, Itrat Hussain said restrictions were imposed in Lalpora after people, who presumed the slain militants as civilians, tried to forcibly get into the police station to see the bodies. The people, he said, also hurled stones on the forces causing injuries to a few people.
“Later, the bodies were given to the members of the Auqaf committee. All the slain militants were buried by the Auqaf. The situation is normal and well under control,” he added.
Eyewitnesses said that more than ten thousand people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain men. Chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the slain ‘militants’ were buried in martyrs’ graveyard Ratanag.
“Over 15000 people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain. Many people from far off villages also attended the last rites of the deceased men,” Sanaullah, member of the Lalpora Auqaf Committee said.