When encounter 'covers' a reporter

When encounter 'covers' a reporter

News came too dangerously close to our Srinagar correspondent on Sunday evening as an intense encounter broke out between security forces and militants near his residence in Ahmad Nagar area on the outskirts of Srinagar city.

Zulfikar Majid writes:

I was about to enter my home after covering an encounter in South Kashmir, in which two militants and two policemen were killed, when I heard loud gunshots and ran for cover.
In a hurry, I left my car in the lane and ran towards my home, 100 metres away from the place where security forces and militants were locked in a fierce encounter.

As I’m filing this report, I can hear gunshots, and amid blackout, an eerie silence prevails in the entire locality.

A police officer friend called me, advising me not to venture out in search of news, and informed me that two militants, believed to be foreigners, were hiding in two houses. They were firing on security forces.

While peeping from the balcony of my dimly lit home, I could see the entire locality resembling a battle zone, with troops in combat fatigues dotting the streets.

There was no call for prayers in nearly six mosques located in the area, as people took shelter on the ground floors of their houses, fearing that stray bullets might hit them.
In the last 10 years, though I have covered dozens of close encounters, the feeling that the battle zone is near my home is overawing me.

Our neighbour’s ever-chuckling little daughter Mutyaba was in tears and weeping. As the rear side of their house is closer to the battle zone, the family rushed towards our home to take refuge. I took little Mutyaba in my arms and consoled her.

In the nine years since she was born, Kashmir has enjoyed years of reprieve from turmoil. But in a conflict zone, nobody can predict how long peace can prevail. Today’s fire-fight made me reminiscent of early 90s, when I was in school and such incidents were the order of the day.

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