Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Five people, including three rebels, a civilian and an Indian army personnel, have been killed in a pre-dawn gunfight in Dalipora village of Pulwama in the southern part of Indian-administered Kashmir.
Chandan Kohli, a senior superintendent of police from Pulwama told Al Jazeera that the gunfight started in the early hours of Thursday after a search operation was launched.
“In the gunfight, three Jaish-e-Muhammad members and one army personnel were killed,” said Kohli before adding that “one civilian also died in the crossfire while they were being evacuated from the target house”.
The civilian was identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar, in his early 20s, who suffered injuries in his chest and neck.
“He was brought dead to the hospital. His brother also suffered a bullet injury in his leg and is being treated in the hospital,” Dr Abdul Rasheed Para, the superintendent of district hospital Pulwama, told Al Jazeera.
Kohli said that two of the fighters were local and one of them was a foreigner “who was wanted in many cases”.
“He was one of the top commanders of the outfit present in the region,” the official said adding that the gun battle lasted five hours.
After the news of the operation spread in the volatile villages of southern Kashmir, hundreds of people came out on the roads raising anti-India slogans. The protests lead to stone-throwing clashes between youth and the forces.
“Even in the holy month of Ramadan, they can’t let the people live peacefully. We are forced to carry the coffins of our children,” said Fayaz Ahmad Mir, a Pulwama resident.
India’s BJP denies human rights violations in Kashmir
Authorities banned internet services in the district and imposed curfew in the adjacent villages.
The security forces in the region have launched a crackdown against the rebels following a suicide attack on a convoy of Indian forces on the south Kashmir national highway in February where 42 paramilitary troopers were killed.
The Indian authorities undertook several measures to tighten the spaces of dissent in the region. The authorities have banned two top separatist outfits of Jamaat-e-Islami and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and jailed hundreds of their leaders.
The Indian government has also warned the students from the disputed territory against pursuing their studies in the colleges in Pakistan, saying that the Indian government does not recognise those degrees.