Srinagar, Dec 31: The day after the army claimed to have killed three local militants in a gunfight on the outskirts of Srinagar in the Hokersar district, locals living in the area said they saw no activity or suspicious movement in the area.
Contrary to this, the locals alleged that the army had visited the house where the incident took place a few days earlier.
The meeting took place in an abandoned house in the HMT region of Srinagar, where the army says that the alleged militants were holed up.
“As claimed by the army, we did not find any militants in the house. If there were any militants holding up in the house, we would have noticed it,” said the locals.
The locals said that the army had raided the house where the trio were killed just a few days earlier.
There’s always a heavy deployment of forces in the area as a highway. Just three days ago, we saw the army entering the same house, they said.
The locals reported that the army did not cordon the region and nor evacuate the inhabitants to a safer location, unlike other encounters.
“Everything was normal at around 5 pm. There was no cordon. All shops were open, traffic was plying normally. Then all of a sudden, a large contingent of the army came in the vehicles and started firing towards the house,” said a local shopkeeper.
“We managed to put down the shutters of our shops and ran for safety.”
A family living nearby said that “but did not let them move to a safer place,” the army barged into their house to take positions.
“We heard some gunshots, but before we could have understood what was happening, the army stormed into our house and started beating us,” they claimed. “We requested the army to let us go, instead they assembled us in a room which was the most vulnerable,” they said.
Not only did the army keep us hostage all night, but our house was also vandalised. They were merry all night, drinking juice and eating.
The locals also reported that not a single shot from the opposite side was fired, unlike other encounters where both militants and forces exchanged fire.
“There is not a single bullet mark in the opposite direction on the roadside from where the army had taken the positions,”There is not a single bullet mark on the roadside in the opposite direction from where the army had taken the positions.
In addition, the locals said that the house where the meeting took place was abandoned, as the family that owns it lives in North Kashmir.
“Nobody lives in the house. The owner of the house lives in Sopore and the family is apparently outside Kashmir,” they said.
The house was recently used as a snooker (game) spot, where young people used to visit to spend some leisure hours, but locals said a few months earlier that it was also closed down.
“As of now, nobody was visiting the house. Some youth at times used to visit to play snooker, otherwise it was completely abandoned,” they said.
The militants were hidden in a building near the highway, according to a police statement.
The suspected militants were identified by the police as Ajaz Maqbool Ganie and Ather Mushtaq from Pulwama district and Zubair Lone from Shopian.
General Officer Commanding (GoC) Kilo Force H S Sahi, addressing a joint press conference, said that three militants killed in the encounter were preparing a major attack on the highway.
However, the families of the deceased said that they were innocent civilians.
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