Srinagar: Militants and government forces had a face-off thrice on Monday during a daylong search operation in several villages of Pulwama. Each time, militants managed to escape.
“There was general input about the presence of militants,” said additional director general of police (ADGP) law and order, security Munir Khan.
However, Pulwama residents said more than a dozen villages—Chewkalan, Muran, Naira, Rohmu, Belaw, Mitrigam, Gasu, Chek, Mirgund, Sheikhpora, Hanjan, Frasipura and Kamrazipura—were cordoned off for searches.
Local residents hit streets and clashed with the forces to protest against the searches.
One of the protesters shot in the head at village Chewkalan succumbed at the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.
A senior CRPF officer said it was a tough day for the forces.
“It is always challenging to fight militants on the one hand and to deal with the violent protests on the other,” he said.
Reyaz Ahmed (name changed), a resident of Chewkalan, said when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers asking people to come out into the open.
He said many youths were questioned by the forces about the presence of militants.
“Within no time, angry youth blocked roads with wooden logs and clashed with forces,” said Ahmed.
Khan said that during the operation, the forces “established contact with the militants at least thrice.”
“The engagement didn’t last long. Some shots were also exchanged but the protestors disrupted the operation,” he said.
Khan said search operations will continue as they force militants to shift their hiding places and in turn help the forces to dominate an area.
“At times these operations lead to chance encounters which ultimately results in the killing of militants,” he said.
About civilian protests during CASOs, he said the police are ready for such protests during operations.
“At times it becomes difficult to ascertain with whose bullet civilian causality takes place. Sometimes militants mingle with protestors and open fire,” he said. (GK)