Locals say troops deliberately left explosive device behind
7th slain civilian, Javaid laid to rest at Hawura
Hundreds of people continued to flock to the gunfight site at LarooKulgam for the second consecutive day where seven civilians and three militants lost their lives in and after the gunfight on Sunday.
Almost all the civilian deaths occurred due to an explosive device that went off immediately after the government forces left the spot while people largely believe that troops deliberately left behind the explosive device to harm the civilians.
According to eyewitnesses, civilians were held hostage till morning even when thousands of bullets had already rained around the gunfight spot since 3:15 am.
“Kulgam district has witnessed a number of gunfights but this one may be regarded as the deadliest one as the government forces did not stop firing bullets for even a moment since 3 am until they retrieved the three bodies of the militants from the backside of the house at around 10 am,” said Muhammad Yousuf, a local. “The three militants jumped out the rare window of a washroom of Shiraz Ahmed’s house while the government forces fired a volley of bullets at them, killing them instantly. None from the house, in which the gunfight took place, or the neighbouring houses, were allowed to go until 7 am. The forces and militants had been continuously exchanging bullets till then. At 9:30 am, the government forces set ablaze the house which forced the militants to come out the house, resulting in their killing.”
He said by 10 am, the government forces started retreating from the gunfight site without conducting sanitisation of the spot.
“There is every possibility that the explosive was kept to harm us. Police should have deployed the bomb disposal squads to clear the debris of any explosive material. Even the Fire and Emergency department did not bother to douse the flames. This locality, being a congested one, could have been reduced to ashes. It was the locals who used pesticide-spray motors to extinguish the fire,” Yousuf said.
The gunfight claimed seven civilian lives as six died of explosion wounds while the seventh and the youngest victim, UzairMushtaq, died of a bullet wound a kilometre from the gunfight site after the government forces fired at a group of youth heading toward the gunfight spot.
Javaid Ahmed Lone, 35, the seventh slain civilian remained unidentified until late Sunday evening in the mortuary of the District Hospital Kulgam and his body was handed over to his family at Hawura village of Kulgam Sunday night after which he was laid to rest at his native place Monday morning as thousands gathered to attend his funeral prayers amid sobs, anti-India and pro-freedom sloganeering.