Srinagar: Clashes broke out in parts of Srinagar after the Jammu and Kashmir administration said it killed three suspected militants in a brief operation at Rambagh locality of Srinagar, including Mehran Yaseen, of the city’s Downtown area Wednesday evening.
The three suspected militants, according to the police spokesperson, were affiliated with The Resistance Front (TRF), an offshoot of the Lashkar e Toiba and were allegedly involved in several attacks including the killing of two schoolteachers and two policemen in the capital area.
A police spokesperson in a statement said that the operation, which they termed as a “major success”, was carried out based on a police input following which a special Naka was established to track them.
“They were travelling in a car which was signalled to stop by the Naka party. The militants did not stop and instead opened fire, which was retaliated, triggering an encounter,” the police spokesperson said.
A man cleaning blood from the site of shootout in which police claimed to have killed three militants, in srinagar on wednesday. Photo By. Kamran Yousuf
The two other slain men were identified as Arafat Ahmad Sheikh of Nikloora village of South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Manzoor Ahmad Mir of Babhar, Pulwama.
The police claimed that Mehran was also involved in the killing of Meeran Ali Sheikh, who lived close to his residence in Nawa Kadal, on July 27. A bodybuilder enthusiast, Meeran’s killing was earlier termed by the police as an act of “gang rivalry” but, the TRF had claimed it carried out the killing, according to unverified online statements.
Mehran, according to the police, played a significant role in the October attacks carried out against civilians in Srinagar that posed serious security strain in the region.
Arafat has also been named by police in several attacks, which includes the killing of a non-local labour at Litter area of Pulwama on October 16 while Manzoor was believed to have been involved in ferrying militants.
The operation, according to eyewitnesses, was carried out at about 5 p.m on Wednesday. Many expressed shock over the incident as they witnessed the firing while some accused the police of killing the suspected militants without giving them a chance to surrender. “They got hold of them and shot them multiple times, they (militants) were not carrying any arms. They were ambushed,” an eye-witness said.
Another visibly shattered woman who also witnessed the firing incident raised alarm against the killing, “What are we raising our children for to get killed on the streets like this? How long do we (Kashmiris) have to face this?” she said.
Women protesting near the site of shootout in which police clamied to have killed Three militants. Photo By. Kamran Yousuf
Soon after the incident, many present at the firing incident resorted to slogans that were raised against the J&K Police, questioning their action. Protests also broke out in the area and later in parts of Downtown Srinagar where clashes broke out between protesters and the armed forces. The police and CRPF later resorted to tear gas shelling to quell the demonstration.
The Rambagh operation comes a week after police said it killed two militants and one of their aides amongst four in Hyderpora locality just three kilometres away from the Wednesday’s incident. They later faced massive opposition from the families of the victims who accused the police of killing civilians instead in what many termed as “illegal.”
“This is a serious allegation at a time when we are yet to get a clarity from @JmuKmrPolice on Hyderpora "encounter". We have another shootout in the city centre with all the ingredients of murkiness,” Imran Nabi Dar of the National Conference (NC) tweeted.
In a statement, the separatist All Parties' Hurriyat Conference (APHC) while condemning the incident, it called a “continued bloodbath on the streets of Kashmir”.
“Today's killings, as reported and told by eyewitnesses is an example of military impunity in Jammu and Kashmir,” the APHC said.
Tensions have surged in the region with rising militancy related incidents especially since October including around Srinagar city. According to police, as many as 144 militants have been killed so far this year and more than 30 civilians have died in the ensuing violence.