Ghulam Nabi Dar, 61, was writhing in pain as he lay on bed number-4 of a hospital ward in Srinagar, his body sprayed with metal pellets.
A few hours before, Dar was sitting with neighbours on the banks of the Jhelum river — dividing the villages of Kakapora and Samboora — watching over a house across where the militants were trapped.
The gunfight between the government forces and militants broke out in the Kakapora village of Pulwama on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.
The government forces’ personnel, he said, came running towards them. “I stood up and moved slowly because there were no clashes going on,” he told The Kashmir Walla, “nothing was being done to disrupt the encounter from our side.”
However, the personnel “indiscriminately fired” pellet shotguns at the group, which wounded Dar, he said.
Dar, who retired from his job as a government teacher last year, said he would always advise the youth in the area to not indulge in violent activities.
“Today, I have become a victim of the same highhandedness,” he sighed. “This is oppression here. They say Kashmiris are our own people — but do they believe in that?”
While the operation was delayed due to the darkness, contact with the hiding militants was re-established at 4:35 am, said Kashmir police chief, Vijay Kumar.
“Earlier, we had arrested an OGW Ishfaq Ahmed, who provided a tip-off about militants hiding in a house at Ghat village,” the IGP said. “The militants refused to surrender despite repeated surrender offers and instead made five civilians hostage.”
Ishrat Aziz, 25, was sweeping the premises of her house in a neighbouring village “when she felt pain in her right buttock as if somebody had hit her,” Fareeda Bano, Aziz’s sister said. “She was profusely bleeding and we took her to Pampore hospital where we found that she had received bullet injury.”
Dr. Gulzar Ahmad, Block Medical Officer, Pampore, told The Kashmir Walla that the hospital received at least eleven injured patients. “Ten of them had pellet injuries while a woman suffered a bullet wound,” he said. “Five of them were referred to Srinagar for further treatment.”
Ahmad added that two among the injured had been hit in the eye by metal pellets. “The [clashes] are going on and we are expecting more patients to come in,” he added.
The Kashmir Walla contacted the Senior Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, Ashish Mishra for a comment. The SSP disconnected the call on hearing the name of the publication. He didn’t respond to texts either.
However, the IGP told the reporters that “a woman sustained a bullet wound in her leg during cross-firing and three civilians sustained pellet injuries. All are stable.”
Additional reporting by Yashraj Sharma.