12 injured as forces thrash people during Shopian siege

12 injured as forces thrash people during Shopian siege

At least 12 people were injured during clashes that erupted when government forces allegedly thrashed villagers and families of militants during a cordon and search operation in Heff and Shirmal villages in this south Kashmir district on Wednesday. Police, however, denied that locals were manhandled and claimed that “utmost restraint was exercised despite locals disrupting the operation initiated to flush out militants present in the area.”

Witnesses said the government forces cordoned off Heff and Shirmal villages during night at around 1:30 am and launched house-to-house searches.

“As the siege was on, scores of people came out of their houses raising pro-freedom slogans and pelted stones on forces to disrupt the operation,” they told Greater Kashmir.

The forces lobbed tear-smoke shells and fired pellets to disperse the protesters. “At least a dozen people sustained injuries during the clashes and were treated locally,” the witnesses said.

Locals alleged that government forces barged into several houses and severely thrashed the inmates.  “The forces ransacked household goods, smashed windowpanes and beat up inmates including women,” they alleged.

The locals also accused the government forces of targeting the families of active local militants.  “The parents and siblings of one of the active militants were severely beaten up, with one of them sustaining grievous injury,” the locals said.

They alleged that forces vandalized their property and even snatched the cell phones of the family members.

Two local youth, Mehraj Ahmad Ganai and Khushal Hamid were also arrested, locals claimed.

The intense clashes later forced the government forces to call off the operation at 11:30 am.

Reports said while returning from Heff-Shirmal, forces personnel were cornered by youth near Achan, a village in nearby Pulwama district. “Youth pelted stones following which forces fired aerial shots to disperse them,” reports said.

POLICE VERSION

“In an effort to flush out the militants holed up in the area, forces conducted extensive searches in the villages of Heff and Shirmal in district Shopian. During the searches maximum restraint was shown in dealing with the miscreants, who tried to disrupt the operation at Heff. The operation began during the intervening night of May 16 and 17 and after successful completion of searches with the cooperation of villagers, the operation concluded as planned this morning. It is clarified that the reports of ransacking and beating of people by the news portals are not based on facts,” Deputy Inspector General (South Kashmir) SP Pani said.

He claimed there were no injuries to any person.

7 INJURED IN KULGAM

Meanwhile, seven persons sustained injuries at Mohamdpora village in Kulgam district after forces personnel thrashed the protesters, who tried to disrupt the cordon and search operation. One of the injured sustained pellet injuries.

“As the forces were laying siege around the village, people came out and pelted stones,” reports said.

They said that forces resorted to tear shelling, resulting in injuries to six people. “The operation was later called off,” they added.

Locals denied that militants were present in the area. “The operation was launched only with the intention to terrify us.  The government forces beat up at least 50 people mostly women inside their houses,” they alleged.

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