Almost 60 civilians were injured with pellet shotguns while protesting the killing of two militants in Kulgam’s Qaimoh and Khadwai areas on August 28 in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, a house had been razed down by the Indian forces during the operation. Internet services were suspended and a curfew imposed in parts of Anantnag and Kulgam districts following the incident.
“Six civilians suffered injuries to their eyes and their vision was damaged due to the pellet injuries,” hospital officials in Anantnag district, confirmed. “Many of the injured civilians have been shifted to a major hospital in Srinagar.”
Hundreds of the security forces cordoned the Muniward area on Wednesday morning, which was followed by a few hours of exchange of fire. Indian forces then blasted the structure where the militants were trapped, leading to the death of Altaf Ahmad Dar alias Kachroo, who had become a militant in 2011, and was the divisional commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (a pro-freedom militant outfit). Also killed was his associate Umar Rashid.
The police said Kachroo was a most wanted militant and had been listed in the 21 A++ militants category whose names were made public by the security grid earlier this year.
Nearly 130 militants fighting Indian rule have been killed in 2018. Most of them hail from the southern part of Kashmir, the area that became the epicentre of modern militancy after the death of charismatic militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
Government statistics show that 250 active militants are present in the region. This year, around 130 youth are believed to have joined the armed ranks. Most youth who take up guns often share their pictures on social media, carrying AK-47s, which confirm their recruitment.
On August 28, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s Kashmir commander, Riyaz Naikoo, released an audio message in which he claimed that in Kashmir, civilians used to flee their houses on seeing the Indian army in the 1990s, but today, civilians confront Indian forces with stones and chase them out of their localities. “On the one hand, India is making our people blind, destroying their careers, and on the other hand, they are acting as well-wishers… Army is harassing families of militants, civilians, and damaging their property, but media won’t publish these items,” he said.
On the same day, in another incident, the police said militants attacked a police party which was on its way to Arhama in southern Kashmir, killing four local policemen in retaliation. “Four cops who sustained gunshot wounds were evacuated to a nearby hospital where they succumbed to their injuries,” the police said in a statement.