Asem Mohiuddin Debris
The Legitimate Desk: Debris
All hell broke loose on Sunday morning after reports from south Kashmir’s Kulgam district emanated about the five civilian killings at encounter site which later rose to seven. The blood spilled on the soil after security forces gunned down three militants holed up in one of the residential houses in Laroo village.
However, after the forces neutralized all the three holed up militants in morning and reportedly removed its deployment from the spot, hundreds of people rushed to the spot of an encounter where some unexploded shell went off injuring over a dozen civilians.
Five of them died on way to hospital and two more died later after losing battle in the hospital.
The locals, however, said that dozens more injured after security forces used live ammunition on protesters. While the separatists over the civilian killings asked people for complete shutdown to observe on Monday the killings evoked the regrets and condemnations from all the quarters in government and separatist camp.
However, no condemnation or regret has compensated what these families have gone through after losing their beloved ones. One of the families lost the only son and a brother of four sisters.
Even this tragedy has struck only few days after when a bullet pierced through the body of pregnant woman Firdousa in a neighbouring district Pulwama during an encounter between militants and security forces.
In the past few years the security forces in Kashmir are battling a major challenge of collateral damage at encounter sites after huge mobs are witnessed reaching to the battle sites to provide shield to trapped militants.
However, this trend which is surging with each passing day can’t be justification to the security forces for the collateral damage which are offered three tier security layers to battle with militants and the civilian protests.
In Larnoo village incident the two statements coming from the government and the public side are both fixing responsibility on the security forces for exhibiting laxity in dealing with such sensitive situations.
According to police the causalities occurred when the people after the culmination of encounter went to the encounter spot and someone fiddled with the live shell lying there resulting into this catastrophe.
“After the conclusion of encounter as the forces moved out, the locals from the area started assembling at the site of encounter and had apparently fiddled with some stray explosive materials leading to an explosion.
Consequently some individuals sustained grievous injuries and some of the injured identified as Ubaid Shah, Tajamul, Irshad Ahmad Padder, Uzair Ahmad & Masroor Ahmad unfortunately succumbed when brought to hospitals, besides five other injured are undergoing treatment,” the official statement of police reads.
It has further said that the investigations have been taken up after a case is registered.
The locals, however, maintain that it was a pre-planned strategy to inflict maximum damage.
“The forces after leaving the spot of an encounter set afire the house where the militants got killed and left the spot. The people rushed to the area to douse the fire where some explosive went off near the veranda of house,” said the local terming it a planned strategy.
While the allegations levelled by the people has a scope for thorough investigations, but it is evidently becoming clear that the security forces have left the encounter spot without sanitizing it which resulted into the loss of precious lives.
The civilian causalities have not only triggered the anger among the people of Kashmir, however, it evoked the criticism to India at international forum.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan reiterated a demand for dialogue as per the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and termed the killings unfortunate in his tweet.
What has more been painful about this carnage that there are unstoppable and disturbing images emerging on social media?
These heart wrenching images doesn’t only evoke the strong criticism for New Delhi, however, it also portray Kashmir as a war zone.
Until some time back Kashmiri netizens where sharing and posting such images of Yemen and Syria and sharing their sympathy with war torn countries, however, the callous attitude of security forces have given them all the reasons to compare the two opposite sides of conflict.
While these civilian killings are playing spoilsport for New Delhi for its pro people initiatives in Kashmir, it is high time for the security agencies to revisit its operational strategies to minimize the civilian causalities or collateral damage.
New Delhi must also endorse and acknowledge its lapses in Kashmir which often brings the situation to square one and blocks the way for sustainable peace.
Even just few months back a terrifying report by the UNSC was tabled which highly criticized India for its dealing in Kashmir though it outrightly rejected it. India which is emerging as a major South Asian power can’t afford to overlook such reports that bring its future prospects down.
Back home, it is also necessary for the civilians to refrain from visiting the encounter sites before they are made clear of all the debris to avoid the damage or loss of lives.
The disturbing trend of witnessing common people especially civilians visiting the spot of an encounter is proving costly for the people of Kashmir. Losing young people to the vicious cycle of violence will have serious consequences upon the Kashmir society collectively.