Srinagar: A militant and three youths were killed in a shootout in a village in south Kashmir’s Shopian, police said on Sunday.
While villagers claimed that the youths were civilians, the Army said they were overground workers (OGWs) accompanying the militant. J&K Police said the three youths were apparently accompanying the militant, but that facts are still being ascertained. The incident triggered protests in Shopian, with people taking to the streets.
“Apparently the three individuals were travelling in the same car (in which the militant was travelling). This is our preliminary information,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir S P Pani told The Indian Express. “However, we are ascertaining the role and circumstances and the police are on the spot.”
An exchange of fire was reported from Pahnoo village of Shopian on Sunday evening. Soon after, the Army said that a militant was killed at one of their mobile checkposts.
“A joint Mobile Vehicle Check Post near Pahnoo was fired upon by the terrorists at 2000 hours. In retaliatory operation, one terrorist (was) neutralised,” defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said.
Later, there were reports that three others had been killed in the village. The villagers said they were civilians who were killed by the Army.
The Army, in its second statement, termed them as militant overground workers. “A joint Mobile Vehicle Checkpost near Pahnoo (Shopian) was fired upon by terrorists at 2000 hours from a vehicle. In retaliatory firing, one terrorist Shahid Ahmad Dar was killed and a weapon had been found with him. Also three OGWs/accomplices in the car who were accompanying the terrorist were found to be dead. Police reached the spot and started legal formalities,” Col Kalia said in his subsequent statement.
Soon after the shootout, villagers of Pahnoo and surrounding areas took to streets to protest against what they called civilian killings. They claimed that the police used tear smoke shells and fired in the air to disperse the protesters. The protests were going on in the area till late at night.
As news of the incident spread, the separatists called for a Valley-wide shutdown on Monday against the “civilian killings”.