Police and army claimed to have killed a militant in a gunfight in Chapran Gujjarpatti area in Aragam village of this north Kashmir district on Thursday. A police official said the army's 13 Rashtriya Rifles unit and Special Operations Group of J&K police launched a joint search operation in Chapran Gujjarpatti during midnight "after inputs about presence of four to five militants inside the residential house of one Sher Ali son of Shah Muhammad, there." He said an unidentified militant was killed during a 12-hour gun-battle. Sources, however, said the other militants escaped from the encounter site.
Officials said during the encounter, the house of Sher Ali was razed to the ground with the help of IEDs "used to neutralize the militants."
A senior police official here said the identity of the slain militant could not be ascertained.
When contacted, DIG North Kashmir, Uttam Chand, said the details about the gunfight would be provided through a police press note from Police Control Room Srinagar.
Local residents said police and army denied handing over the body of the militant to the villagers who staged a protest outside an army camp.
Witnesses said hundreds of villagers including women demonstrated outside Army's 13 RR camp at Aragam, about a km away from Chapran Gujjarpatti, raising pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans.
"We demand the body of the person who police claim was killed in the gunfight to identify him and clear our doubts. We have apprehensions that he may be a civilian," the protesting villagers told Greater Kashmir.
They said the first gunshots were heard at around 10. 45 pm on Wednesday and "we were harassed throughout the night by forces."
Later, the villagers staged protest outside police station Aragam, demanding body of the slain militant, amid anti-India and pro-freedom sloganeering.
Police, according to witnesses, resorted to heavy teargas shelling to break up the protest, triggering clashes in which a youth was injured after being hit by pellets. The injured was identified as Tauseef Ahmad son of Nazir Ahmad Ganai, a student of class 9th. He was shifted to Sub-district hospital Bandipora where from he was referred to SMHS hospital in Srinagar.
Doctors at SDH Bandipora said the youth had suffered multiple pellet injuries and was referred to the SMHS hospital in a critical condition.