Protests, clashes in Srinagar after a mid-night encounter; Woman, 3 militants killed, CRPF man injured in Batmaloo

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/18/2020 12:05:54 PM

Police say civilian ‘died in cross-firing’, family alleges she was killed by forces

SRINAGAR, Sep 17: Protests broke out here today after three alleged militants and a woman were killed in a gunfight in Batmaloo area.
In a joint counter-insurgency operation police and security forces surrounded the Batmaloo area after midnight following a tip-off that rebel fighters were hiding in a house, triggering an exchange of fire, according to a police official.
Three militants, believed to be locals, were killed in the gun battle that lasted several hours, police announced on Twitter.
"One young woman also died during the encounter," a police officer confirmed.
"The woman was caught in the crossfire. Her death is unfortunate," Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh later told media-persons.
A security personnel was also injured during the firefight, Singh said.
Local news agency, Global News Service, quoting Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said that three militants were killed in the gunfight, however their identity couldn’t be ascertained yet. “Earlier, a 45-year-old woman identified as Kounsar Riyaz of Batmaloo was also killed in cross firing and a Deputy commandant of 117 Bn of CRPF identified as Rahul Kumar was injured, and subsequently shifted to 92 Base hospital for treatment,” the report further mentioned.
However, the family of Kounsar have alleged that she was shot at by security forces. A video of her son, Aqib, was in circulation on the social media in which he says that she was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle being driven by him when she spotted a posse of government forces at some distance. “They did not give any warning or say anything to us. When I turned the vehicle around, they opened fire at us and the bullets hit her.”
Mr. Aqib broke down as he said that his mother had “died on the spot”.
According to a report in Kashmirwalla, the local residents in Batmaloo said that the sound of gunfire had stopped by around 2:00 am; after which, the government forces conducted searches in the area. “There was no gunfight going on at that time,” said Riyaz Ahmad, who lives close to the Sofi family’s bakery in Barapathar area. “Security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in the area.”
Kounsar is reported to have got up as usual at 3.30 A.M. to visit her bakery and start baking the morning bread for the locality.
Around 3:45 A.M, when Kounsar was shot dead. Aqib said that he had tried to keep his calm and take her to the hospital but he realized that his mother had “died on the spot”. He said that forces ran towards them and directed Mr. Aqib to “get in their vehicle, with his mother’s body” to the Police Control Room (PCR), a short distance from the area. They took him to the Police Station in Batmaloo. There, the Station House Officer (SHO) did not allow him to leave until 7 am.
According to the report, a relative of the Sofi family said that the “police had said that they can’t give the body back without a written assurance that there will be no public outcry resulting in a law and order situation.” The relative added: “How can we guarantee that nothing would happen?”
As news of the death of the woman spread, hundreds of residents took to the streets, throwing stones at government forces who fired tear gas and metal pellets.
The crowd shouted slogans and clashed with the police and forces. They burnt tires and logs of wood, blocking the road at many places. No injuries were immediately reported from the clashes.
Thursday's deaths came a day after similar protests in northeastern Kashmiri town Sopore, where Irfan Ahmed Dar, 26, was found dead hours after he was detained by police.
Dar's family allege police tortured and killed him, later dumping his body in an open area.
Police however claim Dar was “working for a terror group” and “escaped from police custody” before he was found dead.



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