A 15-year-old boy and two militants were killed in an encounter with security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday, the Central Reserve Police Force said. The radicals – identified as Jahangir Ahmed Ganaie and Mohammad Shafi Shergujari – are believed to have been affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
State police chief SP Vaid said the teenager was hit by a stray bullet “after he managed to sneak up near the site’’ were security forces were engaged in a gunfight, Hindustan Times reported. “We have requested people many times to not come near encounter sites, but they don’t pay heed to our warnings,” he said.
The exchange of fire began in Pulwama’s Padgampora region early Thursday morning. Troops from the CRPF’s 130 Battallion, 55 Rashtriya Rifles and the J&K Police’s Special Operations Group were deployed after receiving a tip-off that the militants were hiding in a house there, reported ANI.
According to Kashmir Life, people gathered in the area in large numbers after news of the gunfight spread and began to pelt stones at the troops in an alleged attempt to help the militants escape. Disputing the police chief’s claim, locals said the 15-year-old – identified as Amir Nazir Wani – was killed after security forces opened fire on the protesters. Vaid had denied this allegation.
Local residents told the Kashmir Reader that they first heard a few gunshots, which was followed by heavy firing. While the encounter was underway, authorities had suspended train services from Banihal to Srinagar as one of the railway stations is near the site.
This is the second major encounter in the region in the past four days. On March 5, at least two militants were killed in Tral after a fierce gun battle that lasted several hours. Naik Manzoor Ahmad of the Special Operations Group was also killed in the strike.
The Kashmir Valley was thrown out of gear for several months in 2016 after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in July. Schools and other establishments remained closed for weeks on end, large-scale protests were carried, and security forces were accused of using excessive force to quell the resistance.