Munir Ahmad Khan

57 civilians killed near gunfight sites in Kashmir this year

Srinagar: The killing of seven civilians in forces firing near encounter site at Sirnoo area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday has taken the civilian death toll near gunfight sites in Kashmir this year to 57.

In last eleven months of this year, 50 civilian casualties were reported near encounter sites, most of them in south Kashmir.

Seven civilians were killed in forces firing on protesters during clashes near gunfight site at Sirnoo on Saturday.

Such a huge civilian causalities in a day during clashes near gunbattle site has happened for the first time in Kashmir this year.

Earlier, on October 21 seven civilians were killed in a powerful blast when they were clearing debris post gunfight at Laroo village of Kulgam district.

There has been no end to civilians protests near gunfight sites especially in south Kashmir—the hot belt of militancy—spread across four districts, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag.

In November, of total eight civilian causalities in Kashmir, two were killed near gunfight sites, while remaining were killed in different circumstances including cross firing and unknown gunmen.

In October, 14 civilians were killed in different militancy-related incidents. However, none of them was killed in clashes post any gunfight between militant and forces.

Attempts by protesters to gather near gunfights and stone pelting on forces during anti-militancy operations to help militants escape from forces dragnet is seen as major reason for civilian killings at encounter sites.

Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Law and Order and Security, Munir Ahmad Khan told that that the gunfight at Sirnoo was not confined to a “satellite zone” as the gunfight took place in open orchards.

The “satellite zone”, Khan defined as the place like residential area where militants are holed up and anti-militancy operation is launched.

“The militants fired from different directions in an orchard. So satellite zone could not be created and miscreants took advantage of it and on provocation of over ground workers, the civilians came near the gunfight site which resulted into civilians killings,” Khan claimed.

Denying use of indiscriminate firing on protesters near the gunfight site, ADGP law and order said the civilians entered into the gunfight zone from all the four sides when the firing between militants and forces was on.

“We have been appealing people not to come near gunfight sites,” Khan said.

Major incidents

Dec 15: Seven civilians killed in forces action during clashes post gunfight at Sirnoo area of Pulwama.

Oct 21: Seven civilians killed in a blast when people were clearing debris post gunfight at Laroo village of Kulgam.

May 6: Six civilians killed in clashes post gunfight at Badigam village in Shopian district.

April 11: Four civilians were killed in forces action on protesters near gunbattle site in Khudwani area of Kulgam district.

April 1: Four civilians were also killed during clashes near gunfight sites at Draged and Kachdoora villages of Shopian.