On Monday, February 18, four army personnel, a civilian, a policeman, and three militants were reportedly killed during an ambush led by the government forces in Pinglena of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
As per reports, a joint team of 55 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), CRPF and Special Officers’ Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police led the ambush, following a tip-off about the presence of militants.
Soon after having confirmed this information, a gunfight between the forces and the militants ensued. According to the police officials, Abdul Rasheed, PSO of DIG (South Kashmir) Amit Kumar, was shot dead, while Kumar also received a bullet in his leg, and reportedly has been airlifted to the army base camp.
Five army personnel were injured in the firing, four of which have reportedly succumbed to their injuries. They were identified as Major DS Dondial, Head Constable Saave Ram, Sepoy Ajay Kumar and Sepoy Hari Singh. Another army man who is critically injured has been identified as Sepoy Mohammad Gulzar who has been shifted to army’s 92 base hospital Badami Bagh Srinagar for treatment.
Meanwhile, a civilian who had received bullet injuries during the gunfight reportedly succumbed to his injuries. The slain civilian has been identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat (46).
An eyewitness, while speaking to NewsClick, claimed that the protesters who gathered near the site, allegedly to help the trapped militants, clashed with the forces. Locals also claimed that two houses at the site were razed to the ground by the armed forces.
The search operation is underway to find the bodies of the militants that have been buried under the debris, said the officials. So far, three bodies have been recovered.
The identity and affiliation of the militants to any of the outfits are being ascertained. The search operation is underway to find out if any more militant body lies under the debris.
The police claimed that one of the militants killed in the encounter, named Abdul Rasheed Ghazi alias Kamran, was the mastermind of the Pulwama attack, and a top Jaish-e-Mohammad commander active in Pulwama.
Karwan-e-Aman Bus on Monday
Karwan-e-Aman bus service, which was launched on April 7, 2005, after the agreement between India and Pakistan will not function on Monday.
While speaking to NewsClick, an official said that the bus service will remain suspended till the further orders.
The weekly Karwan-e-Aman bus has helped thousands of families separated during Indo-Pak partition to be able to meet each other.
On Sunday, a complete shutdown was called by the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) and the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), following the attacks on Kashmiris in Jammu and other parts of the country.
Shops, private and government offices and other business establishments remained closed, and public transport was completely shut.
Several Kashmiris including students, traders, and secretariat employees were reportedly attacked by the mobs in Jammu, Bihar, Dehradun and Rajasthan among other places, following the Pulwama terror attack.
On Sunday, the security provided to the resistance leaders was withdrawn following the orders issued by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
On Friday, in a high-level meeting, Singh had said, referring to the resistance leaders, that some elements in Kashmir have links with the ISI, and take money from Pakistan. He had also asked the state administration to “review the security cover provided to these elements”.
The five resistance leaders whose security cover and vehicles provided by the authorities have been withdrawn are: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Hashim Qureshi.
However, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), in a statement, said that the party chief Shabir Shah, who is currently under detention in Tihar Jail, Delhi, had never been provided with any kind of government security.
The statement said that Shabir Shah, who has recently completed his 32 years in different jails, had never any security cover, and so, the announcement of withdrawal is nothing but a “big lie”.
At least eight resistance leaders have been provided security cover by the J&K police. These exclude Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mohammad Yasin Malik.
The issue of security cover to the leaders had been taken up in the assembly several times. According to official sources, in the past decade, over Rs 15 crore have been spent on the security cover provided to the resistance leaders.
Read more: Kashmiris Reel Under Impact of Pulwama Terror Attack, Violence in Jammu