15 injured in Pulwama firing

Four Critical *Government Orders Magisterial Inquiry *Curfew Clamped In Main Town *Exercised Restraint: Army

KHALID GUL

Pulwama, Dec 28: At least 15 civilians were injured, four of them critically, after forces allegedly resorted to indiscriminate firing on the protesters at two different places in this south Kashmir district on Friday. The firing initially took place in Bubgam (Chandgam) village, where an encounter between militants and forces had occurred, and later at the Main Town. The incident triggered massive protests in the district following which the authorities clamped curfew in Pulwama town and some of its adjoining villages. Meanwhile, the Government ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.
Witnesses said people from Bubgam (Chandgam) and its adjoining villages held protest demonstrations and tried to march towards the encounter site. However the forces, they alleged, resorted to indiscriminate firing on the protesters, resulting in injuries to seven protesters.
The encounter started early Friday morning after a joint team of Police, CRPF and Army laid siege around Chandgam village and engaged in a gun-fight with two militants holed up there. The encounter, police said, ended after several hours, resulting in killing of both the local militants of the LeT outfit.
“People in large numbers from Chandgam and its adjoining villages raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans and tried to move towards the encounter site peacefully. However they were stopped by police and the paramilitary forces who fired indiscriminately on the protesters,” the locals alleged. They said seven protesters received bullet injuries in the firing.
“After sometime, we were rushing the injured to the district hospital when the forces again fired at us near main Chowk Pulwama, causing injuries to more civilians,” the witnesses said.
The injured were shifted to district hospital Pulwama. A medico there said 11 persons with bullet injuries were rushed to Srinagar hospitals while four persons with teargas canister injuries were being treated there.
Some of the injured have been identified as Muhammad Yaseen Bhat son of Ghulam Ahmad Bhat of  Chit Parraypora; Ashiq Ahmad Mir son of Bashir Ahmad Mir of Nawnagri Barzulla; Jahangir Ahmed Mir son of Bashir Ahmad Mir of Nawnagli; Gowhar Ahmad Mir son of Ghulam Muhammad Mir of Nawnagli; Imran Bhat son of Abdul Rehman of Bathinoora; Showkat Ahmad Mir son of Ghulam Muhammad  Mir of Nawnagri; Younis  Ahmad Mir son of Parviez Ahmad Mir of Arimula; Imran Ahmad son of Abdul Rahim of Bathinoor and Suhail Ahmad Malik son of Muhamad Shafi Malik (16) of Bandizuwa village.
The injured were admitted to the SMHS and Bone and Joints Hospital in Srinagar while two of the critically-injured, Imran and Suhail Malik, a 10th class student who have received bullet injury in head, are being treated at SKIMS Soura.
The Assistant Commissioner of Revenue (ACR), Shopian also reportedly sustained minor injuries in the clashes while a cop identified as Riyaz Ahmad was also injured.

POLICE VERSION
The police however claimed that the protestors “attacked a vehicle carrying an injured Army Major to hospital, with stones.”
“When the army Major was being evacuated for treatment, a mob attacked the ambulance by hurling stones at it. In the retaliatory action, seven persons were injured. Six injured have been moved to Srinagar hospitals,” a police spokesman said.
However, one of the injured Showkat Ahmad Mir, who has received bullet in his stomach, said that security forces opened “indiscriminate fire in Bubgam area.”
Showkat, who lives in adjacent village Nownagri, said two stray bullets hit one of his relative Jehangir Ahmad at Nownagri, one km from Bubgam.
“When we were carrying Jehangir in a Sumo vehicle, Army opened fire at our vehicle at Pulwama Chowk, injuring three persons including me,” he said.
Mir, who is admitted in the SMHS hospital Srinagar, said: “We were carrying an injured in our vehicle which only tried to overtake the Army vehicle. So there was no justification for Army to open fire.”   Jehangir has received three bullet injuries.
The staff at the district hospital Pulwama alleged that the forces went berserk and thrashed them. “As the injured were being treated in the hospital, the forces forcibly entered the hospital and after smashing the vehicles parked at the hospital premises ransacked the hospital and thrashed the doctors, paramedical staff and nurses,” said one of the doctors.

GOVT ORDERS MAGISTERIAL PROBE
Curfew was today imposed in Pulwama town of south Kashmir following clashes between protesters and security forces after the death of two militants in a gunfight.
“Curfew has been imposed in Pulwama town as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order,” Deputy Commissioner Pulwama Shafat Noor told reporters.
He said there was apprehension of protests after the Friday congregation prayers, necessitating the imposition of prohibitory orders in the town.
Noor said a magisterial inquiry will be conducted into the incident that led to the firing by security forces in the town and consequent injuries to the civilians.
The enquiry shall be conducted by Additional District Magistrate Pulwama who has been asked to furnish the report within 15 days.

DGP ASSESSES SITUATION
Following the Pulwama incident, the J&K Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Prasad Friday afternoon chaired a high-level meeting in Srinagar to assess the situation.
According to a senior police officer, who was part of the meeting, the DGP arrived in Srinagar this afternoon. “The meeting was not planned,” he said, adding that the DGP left Jammu along with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Criminal Investigation Department Dr B Srinivas at around 1 pm. “From Srinagar airport, he straightway drove to Police Control Room (PCR) Srinagar and chaired the meeting.”
Sources said the DGP was briefed about the Pulwama incident. “He called for maximum restrain while dealing with such situations,” they said. “The DGP was told that the civilians were injured after they stopped the evacuation of injured Army officers from the encounter.”
The DGP directed that every effort should be made to bring the situation under control in Pulwama.
The meeting was attended by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir zone, SM Sahai, IGP CID, Dr B Srinivas, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Central Kashmir Syed Afad-ul-Mujtaba, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar Syed Aashiq Hussain Bukhari and representatives of paramilitary forces.

MALIK, MIR CONDEMN ‘UNPROVOKED FIRING’
Meanwhile, The chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Muhammad Yasin Malik has strongly condemned the ‘indiscriminate’ firing on civilians at Pulwama in south Kashmir by the armed forces following an encounter with militants at Bubgam area.
Malik termed the firing incident as a “reflection of terrorist mindset of armed forces.”
“The humanists, demanding punishment to the culprits involved in the rape of an innocent girl in Delhi, should take notice of the tyranny and suppression which the civilians in Kashmir are subjected to,” Malik demanded.
Meanwhile, a team of Front leaders led by Showkat Ahmad Bakhshi visited the Bone & Joints Hospital here to enquire about the injured.
The JKLF (H) Chairman Javid Ahmed Mir strongly condemned the firing by forces on civilians in Pulwama. “This is unfortunate. The army doesn't have any respect for humans. Bullets have been showered as if they were animals,” he said.

ARMY SPEAKS
A senior Army official of 15 Corps told Greater Kashmir Friday evening that on receipt of specific intelligence input about presence of two armed militants in village Bubgam in Pulwama, a joint operation was launched by soldiers of 55 RR, 182 Bn CRPF and SOG in the wee hours of 28 December, resulting in killing of both the militants.“ During the course of the operation two Army officers and one policeman sustained injuries,” the officer said.
The officer said one of the Army casualties had “sustained life-threatening gunshot wound and required immediate medical attention.” “Accordingly he was being jointly evacuated in an Army Ambulance escorted by a police vehicle. On its way to Base Hospital Srinagar, the ambulance was attacked at Pulwama by a group of 500 to 600 people. They resorted to heavy stone pelting,” the officer said, adding that “due to deteriorating condition of the casualty and to ward-off the threat from the group of people, warning shots were fired in the air by the escort.”
He said: “It was later learnt that seven civilians have suffered injuries. Despite provocation, Army exercised utmost restraint in the entire operations,” the officer added. With inputs from Shabir Ibn Yusuf, Irshad Bhat

Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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