Around 4 am, the Government Forces including 55 Rashtriya Rifles of Indian Army, 183 Batalion of Central Reserve Police Force and Jammu Kashmir Police laid a siege around a secluded area in Sirnoo of South Kashmir’s Pulwama District.
“Upon receiving confirmed inputs about the presence of Zahoor Ahmed Thokar, the Hizb commander in a poultry farm of the area, the forces laid a siege around the area,” an official told The Kashmiriyat.
As the troopers were inching closer to the site, the holed up Militants opened fire upon the forces triggering an encounter, he said.
After exchanging fire for nearly two hours, the three Militants including the Ex Army men were killed, the official said.
Sources however told The Kashmiriyat that because of massive local support for Zahoor Thokar, the Army men inched closer to the poultry farm in two trucks wearing phirans to not give locals any sense of Army presence in the village.
The troops did not want locals to come out and save Zahoor like they had done on several occasions, they said.
As the encounter raged and forces cordoned the Militants from all sides, leaving them no chance to escape from the site of the gunfight, more reinforcements were rushed to the spot.
The same tactics were used in the encounter in which Sameer Tiger was killed in Drubgam area of Pulwama on April 30, when two trucks laden with Army men reached the Drubgam area.
The troopers later blocked all the entry and exit points to the Sirnoo area, sources told The Kashmiriyat.
As soon as firing was heard in the area, hundreds of people stormed outside their houses raining stones on Government Forces who fired tear smoke shells, Pellets and bullets upon protesters, seven protesters were killed.
One Army man was also killed while two others injured in the encounter.
As soon as the news of news of civilian deaths spread, clashes erupted in parts of Srinagar, Islamabad (Anantnag) township and Sopore while a spontaneous shutdown was observed throughout Southern Kashmir.
Mobile Internet services were barred in Southern Kashmir, Srinagar and Budgam, Mainstream parties including the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, Sajad Lone expressed condolences over the ‘sad’ killings.
The Hurriyat called for a three day valley wide shutdown as a mark of protest against the killings.
At least Seven civilians were killed while sixty five others injured as Government Forces opened indiscriminate fire upon protesters in Sirnoo area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama District.
Sources told The Kashmiriyat that youth in large numbers hit the streets as soon as gunshots were heard in the area.
Shouting pro Independence and Anti India Slogans, youth tried to march towards the encounter site, Forces in the area fired pellets, tear smoke shells and bullets upon the youth in which at least six people were killed and dozens injured.
Many of the injured were shifted to the nearby hospitals, however many youth at the fear of being profiled in the Police stations chose not to be treated at the hospitals, Locals from Sirnoo told The Kashmiriyat.
The slain youth have been identified as Shahbaz Ali, resident of Monghama village, Suhail Ahmad of Bellow, Liyaqat Ahmad from Parigam, Amir Ahmad Palla of Ashminder and Abid Hussain Lone of Karimabad and Tawseef Ahmad Mir of Urchersoo Pulwama district.
Hospital officials at the District hospital Pulwama confirmed to The Kashmiriyat that four youth were brought dead to the hospital while two died on the way to the hospitals.
Locals told The Kashmiriyat that Army men fired indiscriminately upon civilians when they were leaving the encounter site, however the Jammu Kashmir Police claimed, “While the operation was going on, a crowd who came dangerously close from different parts to the encounter site got injured, The injured were evacuated to hospital where unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries.”
Tens and thousands of people gathered in Sirnoo area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama District on Saturday to offer funeral prayers ten people including three Militants killed in Sirnoo area of South Kashmir.
On the way to the funeral ground, pro freedom Taranas are being played on the loudspeakers of the mosques as youth in large numbers from as far as Islamabad (Anantnag) are reaching the funeral grounds.
“The areas throughout the day remained flooded with Motorcycles and cars,” the eyewitness told The Kashmiriyat.
“People have taken out what they had cooked for themselves and are giving it to those who are visiting the area for the funerals, arrangements have also been made to quench the thirst of the funeral participants,” he told The Kashmiriyat.
Identification of Militants
The three militants killed in the Sirnoo gunfight with government forces early morning on Wednesday were identified by Jammu Kashmir Police as Zahoor Ahmed Thokar, a resident of Sirnoo, Adnan Hizbi of Karimabad and Bilal Ahmed of Rajpora Pulwama.
Zahoor Ahmed Thokar who was an army man had deserted the army ranks in 2017 and joined militancy
The three affiliates of Hizb ul Mujahideen were killed in a fierce gunfight with forces at Sirnoo, An Army man was also killed, while two others injured in the gunfight that raged in the wee hours of Saturday.
Funeral prayers were held in absentia for the ten people killed in Kashmir university’s main as well as South Kashmir campus, while as spontaneous protests erupted in AS College of Srinagar, Sopore College while as in Islamabad (Anantnag) hundreds of youth hit the streets to protest the ‘gruesome’ killings.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed in South Kashmir including main towns of Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Islamabad (Anantnag) against the killing of seven civilians and three Militants in Sirnoo area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama District.
Sources told The Kashmiriyat that scores of protesters hit the streets in Islamabad township of South Kashmir as the news of killing of seven civilians reached the area, protests also erupted in Sopore, Srinagar areas.
The forces used tear smoke shells to quell the protests. However, there was no immediate report of any injury.
A partial shutdown is being observed in Budgam township also, Shops and other business establishments shut while traffic movement got thinned in these areas with the passage of time.