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In Pulwama,forces fired indiscriminately: Eyewitnesses

Srinagar, Dec 15: On Saturday morning, hundreds of people from Kharpora Sirnoo area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district started rushing to the encounter site soon after the news of three local militants getting killed in an encounter spread in the area.

They, however, hardly had a clue that things were about to get much worse.

Government forces, as per eyewitnesses, fired indiscriminately at protesting civilians leaving many in pools of blood.

Chaos and death prevailed as those shot at were shifted to the local district hospital. Six of them were pronounced dead already with the seventh civilian succumbing later at Srinagar’s SMHS.

The forces according to eye-witnesses resort to firing to stop people coming near to the encounter site in which scores received firearm injuries.

The locals said that forces resorted to “indiscriminate firing and used excessive force”.

“There were no warning shots. The forces fired indiscriminately at the protestors,” a relative of injured Jehangir Ahmad told The Kashmir Monitor outside the emergency ward at SMHS hospital here.

Jehangir, 20, was one among the scores of civilians who got injured during the clashes near the encounter site.

“Most of the injured have above waist fire-arm injuries,” Jehangir’s relative said.

Shabir Ahmad, who was shot with pellets in his eyes, said hundreds of people rushed towards the encounter site on Saturday morning.

“Two civilians were shot dead during the encounter while five were killed after that. The forces directly targeted the civilians. I saw two civilians being shot dead during the encounter,” he said.

“We were clicking videos of encounters when forces showered bullets and pellets at us,” he added.

A relative of Gulzar Ahmad, who received a bullet in his shoulder, said Gulzarwas shaping the grass in his garden.

“After the encounter, the forces fired indiscriminately. A bullet hit his (Gulzar’s) shoulder. He was rushed to Pulwama hospital from where he was shifted to SMHS,” the relative said.

He added: “In a radius of about 200 metres every second step I took landed on the blood of some civilian shot at during the indiscriminate firing.”

With tears in his eyes, he added: “My beloved friend breathed his last in my arms while I was taking him towards the district hospital.”

Inspector General of Police Kashmir, S P Pani said they would look into the matter whether or not the Standard Operating Procedure was followed by the government forces to disperse the protestors.

The SOP is provided by Bureau of Police Research and Development and lays down 20 instructions to be followed by government forces regarding several levels of use of force for dispersing crowds.

A police spokesman, while calling the killings unfortunate, claimed that the “crowd came dangerously close” to the site of the gunfight that left three militants and a civilian dead in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

“While the operation was going on, a crowd who came dangerously close from different parts to the encounter site got injured,” he added.

He said the injured were evacuated to hospital where “unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries.”

Others who were admitted in the hospital are stated to be stable, he said.

“The loss of civilians is deeply grieved. Police once again appeals the citizens to remain away from encounter site as it is a prohibited zone which involves significant danger to life because of nature of the encounter,” said the spokesman.