Srinagar: With the killing of a civilian, Firdous Ahmad Khan, at Pulwama on Tuesday, the death toll of civilians shot dead by government forces during or after gunfights at encounter sites during the past five months rose to 11.
Firdous, a resident of Begumbagh, Kakapora, was critically injured in the firing following a gunfight between militants and government forces, in Hakripora village of Pulwama district.
Government forces have fired into people, who have tried to rescue militants during encounters, on several occasions during the past three years.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had warned such people against coming to rescue of militants in February this year.
On March 9, the first civilian killed after the general’s warning was a 14-year-old Amir Nazir of Pulwama district. On March 28, three persons were killed in Budgam district’s Chadoora area after the forces fired into protesters during an encounter.
The month of April saw a major spike in civilian killings in forces firing. At least 10 persons— including eight on the day of Lok Sabha by-poll for Srinagar constituency in Budgam district — were killed. Two persons, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed in separate incidents in Kupwara and Srinagar.
In the month of May, one person was killed as protests erupted near the site of a gunfight in which popular Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sabzar Bhat was killed.
June saw the killing of five protesters in separate incidents in Shopian, Rangreth, Pulwama and Arwani.
The first day of July this year saw the killing of two civilians during a gunfight in Anantnag.
The regularity in the killing of civilian at encounter sites started from Lilhar village in Pulwama district on February 15 last year.
On that day, two students, including a girl, were killed and 10 civilians injured when forces opened fire and resorted to teargas shelling to disperse the protesters who hit the streets after the death of a militant in a gunfight.
According to officials, a cursory assessment of the situations emerging at encounter sites during the past 15 months reflects that the Standard Operating Procedures laid down by the Bureau of Police Research and Development are not being followed on ground, thus taking a heavy toll on civilians in Kashmir.
The BPR&D has laid down 20 instructions to be followed by security agencies operating in Kashmir on the quantum of force to be used for dispersing crowds. For example, medical records of civilians killed at encounter sites suggest that they were invariably fired in the chest and head, not legs.