Pulwama, Apr 30: In a fierce encounter and subsequent clashes two militants including Sameer Tiger and a civilian were killed in Drabgam area of South Kashmirâ€™s Pulwama district.
Over 50 protesters were wounded, some of them critically while three army soldiers including a Major were also injured in the gunfight.
Reports said that Combined Forces including 44 Rashtriya Rifles of Indian Army, SOG Pulwama and Shadimarg as well as Para-military troopers from 183 Battalion cordoned off Drabgam-the native village of Hizb Commander Sameer Tiger on Monday morning.
As the operation started, a large number of youth tried to disrupt the operation. They pelted stones while in retaliation Forces fired pellets and bullets leaving dozens of protesters injured.
In order to keep protesting youth at bay,55 Rashtriya Rifles of army as reinforcement was called in. Witnesses said that Forces laid multi-layer cordon.
During the initial exchange of fire, three Army soldiers including Major Shukla from Shadimarg based RR camp were wounded who were immediately shifted to 92 Base Army Hospital at Badami Bagh Hospital.
The militants were trapped in a house belonged to one Abdul Samad Dar that was blasted by Forces. Choppers were pressed into service to keep an eye on the trapped militants. During the five hours long gun battle, both the militants including Sameer Tiger and Muhammad Aqib Khan, a resident of Rajpora Pulwama were killed.
As the encounter was in progress, the intense clashes rock the village. Doctors at District Hospital Pulwama informed that they received 15 injured out of which 9 were referred to Srinagar hospital. Nine persons suffered from bullet injuries out of which a teenager identified as Shahid Ahmed of Arihal village succumbed to his injuries. Two persons suffered pellet injuries in their eyes and were hospitalized.
Witnesses said that locals from scores of adjacent villages rushed towards encounter site and clashed with government forces. â€œLocals use private vehicles to ferry injured to hospitals. Announcements were made on public address system asking people to donate blood to injured,â€ said an eyewitness to news agency CNS.
Meanwhile, police issued a statement stating that in the wee hours of morning, a joint party of 44RR, 182/183 CRPF along with Pulwama Police carried out searches at Drubgam village in District Pulwama.
As the search was going on, militants fired upon the search party which was retaliated by the security forces triggering an encounter at Drubgam, Pulwama.
During the encounter two militants who were trapped inside the cordon were neutralized and they were identified as Sameer Ahmad Bhat alias Sameer Tiger son of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat a local from Drubgam Village, while the other one has been identified as Aqib Mushtaq Khan son of Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, a local resident of Rajpora of Pulwama.
â€œSameer was earlier recruited as an OGW by the banned outfit HM after passing Class 8th since he had discontinued his education due to lack of interest in studies. He was involved in several stone pelting incidents prior to his militant activities. He was active in the area since May 2016 and had remained part of several cases of civilian atrocities in the area,â€ the statement said.
As per the statement Sameer was involved in the firing incident on the residential house of Ex MLA Syed Bashir Ahmad in Sheikhard and in a grenade attack on the Naka Party at Haal, Pulwama. Besides his involvement was established in the kidnapping and firing on two civilians from Qasbayar in which one civilian Bashir Ahmad Dar had died instantly while another Altaf Ahmad Dar was seriously injured. Last year he had indiscriminately fired upon a patrolling party of 44 RR besides he had also entered into the residential houses of civilians in South Kashmir and forced them to issue video statements against the government and security agencies. Several FIRs pertaining to these incidents had been registered in Police Station Rajpora. Sameer was said to be a close confidant of HM commander Riyaz Naikoo and both had been spotted together in a video released recently on social media.
The other militant was Aqib Mushtaq Khan who was active since July 2017. He also had plotted several attacks on the security establishments in South Kashmir along with Sameer Tiger and was closely associated with him after joining the militant ranks.
Bodies of both the slain militants were retrieved from the site of encounter. Moreover, 2 AK 47 rifles and other incriminating material have also been seized.
In the incident one civilian named as Shahid Ahmad Dar, aged 25, son of Muhammad Ashraf Dar resident of Arihal Pulwama died in cross firing while some others were injured who are all stated to be stable.
Police has registered a case and investigation is on.