The gunfight at Lajoora Pulwama left two families stranded in their homes for more than 18 hours.
Imtiyaz Ahmad, a teenager, was trapped in his house near the encounter site at Frastibagh Lajoora, around 6 kilometres from Pulwama, leaving him with withered face, parched lips and red eyes.
Imtiyaz was in the house with his father, mother and sister. “I saw two vehicles, a Sumo and a Tavera ferrying army personnel. They stopped ahead of our house before I went inside,” Imtiyaz said.
Within minutes, he said, his house was cordoned off. Imtiyaz along with his family members were in one of the two houses located at Frastibagh, the place where army suspected two militants were hiding in paddy fields after firing on their vehicle.
When the darkness of night enveloped the village, fear engulfed the family members.
“We tried to move out but incessant firing pushed us back. The firing was on throughout the night,” he said.
Imtiyaz said they sat down in the corridor of the house. “We were awake for whole night. All of us had to prone in the corridor till morning when we were escorted by personnel of Jammu and Kashmir police to a nearby house of Mohammad Yaseen Qureshi,” he said.
In Yaseen’s house, around a dozen family members were trapped including an old woman, Masood, who was crying and others were pacifying her.
The old woman started beating her chest when bullets hit the walls of their house. “Please take me out of the house or I would die,” Masooda was heard saying.
The lady complained severe heart pain. “My pulse is rate is abnormal, i feel restless,” she said.
She was cursing the day when they constructed their new house at Frastibagh.
The family stayed awake all night without taking a morsel of food. The family members had requested police to take them out but they refused.
Numan, a three-year-old child, doesn’t know what happened in his village. He is so frightened to see his mother and father’s anguish looks. The family members told that he held on to his mother’s lap since Monday morning and has fallen silent.
The family members had confined themselves to a room. Numan’s mother requested a journalist who was covering the encounter inside their house to bring her a glass of water from the kitchen.
The family members were praying for the encounter to stop so that they could meet their other family members who couldn’t get time to go home. They had gone to their relatives in the neighbouring village.