On 28 March 2017, security forces in Kashmir conducted an operation in Budgam district’s Chadoora village that resulted in the death of Touseef Wagay, a member of the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen. Three young men who were civilians—Ishfaq Ahmad Wani, Zahid Rashid Ganaie and Amir Fayaz Waza—were also killed during the forces’ encounter with Wagay. Several news reports of the encounter stated that the three were part of a group of protestors who had surrounded the site, and were pelting stones at the security forces.
Ishfaq was an 18-year-old mechanic who had gone to an encounter site to protest for the first time, according to his friend, who was with him that day and did not want to be identified. “The forces directly fired at Ishfaq’s chest,” the friend said. Moin Bilal, 21-year-old Zahid’s cousin, told me that before Zahid was shot, he was standing at a distance from the site and was streaming the events taking place near the encounter site on Facebook Live. Bilal added that he had watched the live stream: he said he did not see any protests and only “saw CRPF personnel and spectators.” Zahid was taken to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital after he was shot, where the 21-year-old was declared brought dead. Amir was a 16-year-old student. His family did not allow the doctors to conduct his autopsy. “Forces killed Amir. He had a bullet in his chest. Do we have to prove that?” his uncle, Abdul Rashid asked.
The encounter in Chadoora was the result of a joint operation between the police, the Central Reserve Police Force, and the army. The exchange of fire between the security forces and Wagay began in the early hours of 28 March. The militant had occupied a house in a paddy fields located near the Doodh Ganga stream in the Chadoora town, and was surrounded by the security personnel. While Wagay was trapped, many young men reached the site to aid his escape. A photojournalist covering the event told me that the “youth surrounded the encounter site from all sides.” The young men were protesting, and some threw stones at the security forces. As the protests intensified and the protestors did not relent despite the use of teargas shells and pellet guns, the security forces opened fire at the protestors. At around 3 pm, Wagay was killed, bringing the encounter to an end, more than ten hours after it had begun.