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Encounter unrest in J&K

Srinagar, July 5: A mob torched two police vehicles and stoned the security forces to protest the death of a “foreign” militant in a gunfight in Kashmir’s Pulwama district today.

The clash marks the re-emergence of a trend of mob violence after the killing of militants in the Valley.

A police officer said “Madni”, whom he described as a “foreigner” and a militant from the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, was killed and an army jawan injured during a gunfight at Aaripal village in the Tral area of Pulwama. He did not specify whether Madni was a Pakistani.

But an army statement later named the slain militant as “Adil Pathan” while staying silent on his nationality.

A mob rampage broke out soon after the killing. “The police showed maximum restraint. There are no reports of any injury to anyone,” a police spokesperson said.

Police sources said hundreds took to the streets after the encounter, triggering a battle of stones with the security forces for some time. The police lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air to disperse the mob, the sources added.

“Local people were seeking the body of the militant for burial at Aaripal village but the police wanted to bury him at some other place to avoid a law-and-order situation. That triggered the confrontation,” a government official said.

Militants have traditionally drawn big funerals, and protests over their deaths are also routine in Kashmir. Mob violence over militant deaths is, however, becoming increasingly common, as during the ’90s when militancy was at its peak in the Valley.

In Sopore last month, a youth died when the security forces tried to quell a violent protest after a militant’s death. Containing such violence is emerging as a major challenge for the forces, whose iron-fisted response at times leads to civilian deaths and more protests.