New Delhi: At least 24 people have lost their lives in different incidents of violence across Kashmir. The latest deaths were reported on Sunday when five militants were killed in an encounter in Shopian, and as many civilians died in ensuing clashes with security forces in Kulgam.
The militants included top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam Padder and Kashmiri University Assistant Professor Muhammad Rafi Bhat, who had been reportedly missing since Friday.
The encounter had broken out in Shopian district’s Badigam village after the Indian Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles launched a cordon-and-search operation in the area.
As reports of gunfight trickled in, youth took to the streets and clashed with security forces. In retaliation, forces fired live ammunition, pellets and tear gas at the protesters, injuring dozens. Five of them succumbed to their injuries and were identified as Asif Ahmad Mir, Zubair Ahmad Negroo, Yasir Ahmad, Adil Ahmad and Sajad Ahmad.
The Deadly Week
The deaths in Shopian capped a violent week, which witnessed several militant and civilian deaths in Kashmir.
On Saturday, three militants, including two locals, were killed in Srinagar. In clashes that ensured, a civilian was crushed under the wheels of an armored vehicle. A video of the civilian’s death was widely circulated on social media despite curbs on internet services.
A day earlier, two people were abducted and shot dead by unidentified assailants in Bandipora district of north Kashmir. The bodies were found near a mosque by locals.
On the same day, gunmen shot dead a Special Police Officer (SPO) of Jammu and Kashmir police in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
On Thursday, a 35-year-old man was killed and his wife critically injured after suspected militants broke into their house in Sopore. This incident came four days after bullet-riddled bodies of three young men were found in Baramulla’s Old Town. Police suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants to be behind the killings.
Earlier in the week, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including Sameer Tiger, were killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Drubgam village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. A civilian was killed when protesters clashed with forces.
Another Bloody Sunday
Sunday’s violence, which claimed 10 lives, was the second bloodiest Sunday in Kashmir this year in terms of the death toll. On April 1, at least 19 people, including 12 militants, four civilians and three forces personnel, were killed in three separate encounters and clashes in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Anantnag districts.