SRINAGAR: Indian Army on Saturday shot dead two youth and injured several one in criyical condition in Shopian village after locals resisted army’s move to remove the banners of the slain HizbulMujahideen militants.

Shopian, killing

A witness told Greater Kashmir that army opened fire on the people in Gawanpora village when locals resisted the army move to remove the banners of recently killed Hizbul Mujahideen militants. “Army fired for around 25 minutes,” the witness added.

Another witness termed the army’s action “horrifying” and said that the bodies were lying in a pool of blood and people were screaming for help. The injured were moved to district hospital Pulwama and community health centreRajpora, he added.

“One person was brought dead to the Pulwama hospital and another one who had sustained critical injuries was referred to SKIMS Srinagar,” medical superintendent of Pulwama district hospital Dr Abdul Rashid Parra told Greater Kashmir.

He identified the deceased as Javid Ahmad Bhat, 23, of Balpora

Shopian. “The injured Rayees Ahmad Ganai, 21, of Nadpora village was referred to SKIMS Srinagar.”

Dr Parra said that both the youth had received bullet injuries on their heads.

Medical superintendent SKIMS said that one person with head injury was brought to the institute for treatment. “He has critical wounds on head and will be operated upon immediately,” the MS said.

“Another youth Suhail Javaid son of Javaid Ahmad Lone of Ganowpora was moved to Primary Health Centre Rajpora, where doctors declared him as brought dead,” an official said.

“He too had suffered bullet injuries on his head,” the official added.

Another witness Farooq Ahmed said, “The army firing was unprovoked. Soldiers of army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles opened the fire on mourners who had come to Gawanpora village to express sympathies with the bereaved family of recently killed HizbulMujahideen militant Firdous Ahmad Lone.”

He said, “Army personnel on Saturday repeatedly entered into our village and ordered us to remove the banners of slain Hizb militants from the streets. The locals refused and amicably requested army to leave the village. By late afternoon dozens of army vehicles again appeared and started removing the banners themselves. The people mostly mourners from various villages took to the streets and pelted army vehicles with stones. The army retaliated by resorting to indiscriminate firing leaving two persons dead and another injured.”

FIR AGAINST ARMY

A senior police said, “After Chaigund gunfight we controlled the situation across the district. However, on Saturday army without taking police into the confidence went into Gawanpora village, which led to the stone pelting.”

Meanwhile, senior superintendent of police, Shopian, AmbarkarShriramDinkar said they have registered an FIR against the army.

Additional deputy general of police, Muneer Ahmed Khan said the incident took place when an army battalion was crossing Gawanpora and their vehicles came under stone pelting.

The ADGP rejected the army version of dispersing youths with aerial firing. “Army has not fired aerial rounds as all three have suffered head bullet injuries,” he said.

PROBE ORDERED

Divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killings.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Khan said, “We have appointed deputy commissioner Shopian, Muhammad Aijaz as the inquiry officer to ascertain the facts about the deaths. He has been directed to submit the report within 20 days.”

PROTESTS

Thousands of people brought the bodies of Javaid Bhat and Suhail Javaid Lone to their native villages amid massive protests.

Massive protests rocked Balpora and Gawanpora villages against the killings till late in the evening. The people were raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

Following the killings, the authorities blocked the high speed internet service across the district.

ARMY VERSION

Army’s Srinagar based spokesman in a statement said: “At about 3 PM, an army administrative convoy was passing through GawanporaChowk in Shopian when it came under unprovoked and intense stone pelting by a group of 100-120 stone pelters. Within no time, their numbers swelled to 200-250 persons. The crowd surrounded an isolated portion of the convoy consisting of four vehicles. They caused extensive damage to these vehicles and tried to set them on fire.”

He said, “A junior commissioned officer accompanying the convoy got hit on the head and fell unconscious suffering serious injury. The mob tried to lynch the individual and snatch his weapon. The violent crowd further closed in towards the vehicles and attempted to set them on fire. Considering the extreme gravity of the situation the army was constrained to open fire in self defence to prevent lynching of the JCO and burning of government vehicle by the mob. A total of seven army men suffered injuries and extensive damage was caused to eleven vehicles. In the process two civilians succumbed to the bullet injuries.”

POLICE SPEAK

“An army convoy of 10 Gadwal of Army on its way from 12 Sector HqBalporaShopian to Maspora, came under heavy stone pelting at village Ganowpora. Pertinently, Ganowpora is the village of militant Firdous Ahmad, who was recently killed in an encounter on January 24, 2018 at Cheegund, Shopian,” a police spokesman said in a statement.

He said, “Due to this stone pelting reportedly some army personnel were injured and army personnel retaliated by firing, in which three individuals Javaid Ahmad Bhat, 29, of BalporaShopian, Rayees Ahmad Ganaie, 24 of NadporaShopian and SuhailJavaid of Ganowpora sustained bullet injuries. Javaid Ahmad and SuhailJavaid succumbed to the injuries at District Hospital Pulwama and at Rajpora respectively. Rayees Ahmad Ganaie was referred to SKIMS Soura where he is being operated upon.”

The spokesman said, “In this connection a case FIR 26/2018 under relevant sections of law stands registered in Police Station Shopian and investigation has been set into motion.”

Courtesy: GK

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