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Civilian Killings Spark Protests In Kashmir Valley, Internet Suspended

| Updated: December 24, 2023 12:31

There is a clamour for justice and peace in the Valley after the recent killing of three civilians in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district.

Political parties have condemned the killings and there have been protests against the inhuman incident.

The three men were found dead on Friday hours after they were detained for questioning by the army. At least seven other villagers, who were also detained, have been injured and shifted to hospital for treatment. A compensation of ₹ 10 lakh has been announced for the families of the victims.

Over a dozen men from Gujjar community were detained a day after a major terrorist attack on army in which four soldiers were killed in action and three others were injured. In a statement, the army said search operations were on and the matter was under investigation.

Tension gripped the area after the deaths and internet services were suspended in Poonch and Rajouri districts. A larger number of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in Bafliaz and Surankote areas to prevent any protests and roads leading to Bafliaz have also been closed.

The government said legal action would be taken into the incident and announced compensation for the families.

“The death of three civilians was reported in Baffliaz of Poonch District. The medico legal formalities were conducted and legal action in this matter has been initiated by the appropriate authority,” a statement by the administration said.

On Friday, amid ongoing operation to track down terrorists behind the attack, over a dozen men in Bufliaz area were detained by troops in full media glare. They were taken to a nearby military station for questioning. In the evening, it was reported that three men – Showkat Hussain, Shabir Ahmed, and Mohammad Safeer – have died. Mohammad Safeer’s brother is a serving BSF head constable.

The National Conference and Apni party held protests against the killings, demanding justice for victims. Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister and PDP leader in a press conference claimed bodies of victims had torture marks and some villagers were detained for questioning were injured.

Sources say internet shutdown in the region was also necessitated after a video went viral showing people being beaten and tortured.

On Thursday, four soldiers were killed and three others were injured after terrorists targeted two army vehicles on Bafliaz -Thanamadi road. While a massive counter terrorist operation was launched, it appears terrorists have managed to escape taking advantage of dense forests and treacherous terrain.

Terrorist group Peoples Anti-Fascist Front or PAFF, a front for Lashkar e Toiba, claimed responsibility for the attack and released pictures of the attack indicating they filmed the gunfight with body-cams. The PAFF is known to use body cameras footage for propaganda. A search is underway for the terrorists.

In April, the PAFF attacked an army truck in Poonch and filmed it. After the attack, police and security forces detained a large number of locals. One Mukhtar Hussain Shah committed suicide after alleging harassment and humiliation by security forces. Before his death, Shah left a video message in which he appealed to people to help army in its fight against terrorism.

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