Srinagar, July 8: It was a bloody Saturday in the Valley. Three civilians including a 16 year old girl were killed after the Army opened fire on stone pelters in South Kashmir's Redwani village. Governor N N Vohra told the Army to maintain standard operating procedure so that there were no civilian casualties.
The trouble began when the Army launched a search operation for terrorists. The security forces had information about the presence of four terrorists in the Redwani area. However during the operations a scuffle broke out with the locals following a mob appeared on the streets and began pelting stones.
While the locals said that the Army personnel beat up some locals, the police have denied this and said that there was a clear attempt made by the locals to provoke the personnel.
While the Army has initiated a probe into the incident, officials say that the Area Domination Patrol came under heavy stone pelting. There was a crowd of 500 which kept building up and came dangerously close to the Army. Officials say that the Army maintained the highest restraint, but the mob was not backing off.
Despite warnings, the crowd kept building up and came dangerously close. While most were pelting stones, there were a few who even hurled petrol bombs. Gun shots by terrorists too were heard, officials said while adding that the Army had no choice, but to protect its men. The loss of lives is unfortunate and is being probed at the highest level, the official also said.
The incident took place at a time when the entire state machinery was gearing up to ensure that no untoward incident took place on the death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, Burhan Wani. It appeared to be a deliberate provocation to fuel tension in the Valley. The Hizbul had called for attacks on security forces, while the Joint Resistance Group decided to observe, July 8 as a black day.
The three who died in the firing were later laid to rest amidst anti-India sloganeering. Reports also stated that a few terrorists landed up at the funeral and gave a gun salute.