29 Civilians killed near gunfight sites in less than 2 years across Kashmir

At least 29 civilians have been killed at sites of gunfights in Kashmir in the past two years, an official source said on Tuesday, even as people continue to ignore the police advisory that urges them to not disrupt the anti-militancy operations.
Ruby Jan (24) was killed when a bullet hit her abdomen near the site of gunfight in a Shopian village on Tuesday. She was rushed to a hospital but succumbed on the way, an official said.
On 11th December, MisraBano was killed in Younsu village of Handwara, Kupwara, during a gunfight.
The civilian deaths at gunfight sites have continued despite an advisory by the police asking the people to stay indoors at the time of anti-militancy operations.
In February this year, army chief, general Bipin Rawat, had warned of stern action against civilians who try to disrupt the anti-militancy operations.
“Those who obstruct our operations and are not supportive will be treated as over-ground workers of terrorists,” he had said.
The army chief’s statement came a day after two civilians fell to bullets of the police and army near a gunfight site in Lilhar village of Pulwama district on February 15. On that day, two students including a girl were killed and 10 civilians injured when government forces opened fire and resorted to teargas shelling to disperse the protesters who had hit the streets after the death of a militant in a gunfight there.
A J&K police officer told Kashmir Post on Tuesday that the protesters hamper the police efforts by shouting slogans and throwing stones during anti-militancy operations.
“This poses a great risk to lives of locals. Later it results in killings,” he said.
A cursory assessment of the situation emerging at gunfight sites in the past 17 months, an official said, reflects that the standard operating procedures fixed by the bureau of police research and development have no adherence on ground, thus taking a heavy toll on civilians in Kashmir, particularly in its southern areas. The BPR&D has laid down 20 instructions to be followed by security agencies operating in Kashmir on the levels of use of force for dispersing crowds, the official said.
The medical records of civilians killed at gunfight sites suggest that they were fired in chest and head, the official said, insisting not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to media.
The SOP states that whenever firing is resorted to, direction and warnings to protesters should be announced through loudspeakers fitted to police vehicles. Where such arrangement cannot be made, hand megaphones should be kept ready for the announcement, the SOP guidelines further state, adding that the police must use “minimum civil force” to disperse the protesters by resorting to lathi-charge, water cannons, tear smoke shells and ‘non-lethal’ weapons.