Pulwama: Government forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district engaged in a gunfight with militants trapped in a hideout in Sirnoo village on Saturday i.e, 15th of December. The encounter resulted into the killing of three militants and an Army man.

However, seven civilians were also killed during the military operation. “While the operation was going on, a crowd who came dangerously close, from different parts to the encounter site, got injured. The injured were evacuated to hospital where unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries,” the Police statement said.

Local people contested the Police statement. They alleged that the civilians were killed after the gunfight was over.

The seven slain civilians included Tawseef Ahmad Mir of Urchersoo, Liyaqat Ahmad Dar of Parigam, Suhail Ahmad Dar of Bellow, Shahbaaz Ahmad of Monghama, Amir Ahmad Paul of Ashmander, Murtaza Bashir and Abid Hussain Lone of Kareemabad.

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Our correspondent, Zahid Chaat managed to talk to one of the slain teenager, Suhail Ahmad’s uncle named Nazir Ahmad Dar. He said that the slain teen was to visit one of their relative’s house which was close to the encounter site.

“He left early that morning. We didn’t know about the encounter. We wouldn’t have let him go,” Nazir Ahmad laments.

He alleged, “Suhail was outside the relative’s house when government forces fired at him directly.”

The local people in the area, whom our correspondent talked to, demanded an end to the ever increasing toll of civilian killings. They said that both India and Pakistan should talk and get the issue of Kashmir resolved so that the people don’t suffer any further.

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In a meeting involving senior officers of the State and of Central Police forces, Governor Satya Pal Malik directed Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to inquire about the incident.

Given the fact that government forces fought against and killed three militants during the Sirnoo gunfight, the killing of seven civilians during the protests that followed the gunfight is really a matter of great concern.

Although, authorities have ordered an inquiry into the civilian killings but it needs to be looked at whether some concrete measures are taken to curb such killings in the future!

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