Killing Of 7 Civilians At Encounter Site In Pulwama Leaves Big Question Mark On SOP?

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Nocturnal Clashes

Young Indonesian widow says she won’t live in Kashmir as forces may kill her too                Question

Srinagar: The killing of seven civilians including a teenager and a MBA graduate who had married to an Indonesian woman at Sirnoo village of Pulwama district has left a big question mark on the laid down standard operating procedure (SoP) for dealing with encounters.

First question that calls for answers is whether the SoP was violated in Sirnoo as eye-witnesses claimed that civilian killings took place after the forces had recovered the bodies of all three militants and kept them in the vehicles.

According to SOP, search operation can’t be started unless and until every civilian is evacuated from the area and this wasn’t done by the forces on the pretext those militants were hiding in an open orchard.

The “operating agency” according to SOP has to get permission in writing from the magistrate before the searches are started. The SOP also says that the law enforcing agency (Police) has to make announcement through public address system about the operation.

“ It has to ask the residents to leave the area and in case anybody did not leave he/she will be responsible for any untoward, before start of the search operation,” the SOP says.

In Sirnoo, most of the resident’s were not knowing about the “operation” till firing between forces and militants started. “As the firing started we got scared and lay flat in our houses without knowing what was happening outside,” the residents of the area told KNO.

As a precaution to prevent civilian killing in the encounters, the Deputy Commissioner Pulwama had in the first week of February directed that restrictions under Section 144 be placed in areas falling within 2.5 kilometre radius of any gun battle in the district whenever such encounters do happen.

“Abid, who had married to an Indonesian girl, had come along with his foreign bride and a three month old baby to Pulwama but only to get killed,” the witness said. Saima, the young Indonesian c, said that her husband motivated her to come to Pulwama to meet his family.

“I will not live here. The army killed my husband, now they will kill me too,” Saima told KNO as tears roll down on her cheeks. “My husband had left his home to buy Nan-1 milk for our baby. But he returned dead,” said Saima.

A police officer said that now that an inquiry has been ordered into the killings of civilians in Pulwama, “facts will come to fore.” “In my opinion, SOP wasn’t violated,” he said.(KNO)

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