NHPC Guards Open Fire On Protestors, Kill Youth

NHPC Guards Open Fire On Protestors, Kill Youth

2 January 2012
Kashmir Observer


Srinagar: Kashmir's catastrophic power situation drew first blood on Monday as forces opened fire on villagers decrying massive curtailment before a major centrally-owned power project near the frontier town of Uri. One youth was killed and two other protestors injured in the firing by the Central Industrial Security Force guarding the Uri power project run by the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation in the Boniyar area in the Baramulla district of north Kashmir. The tragedy occurred with the New Year barely a day old, and amid mounting street anger and resentment at the government's severe rationing of already drastically truncated power supply this winter. Expressing “deep regret” and taking “a very serious view,” over the incident, the government said that the police had registered a murder case and arrested five CISF personnel, including a sub inspector. Police had to fire in the air to chase away protesters at nearby Gingal and Dwara. With the protests escalating to several adjoining villages, the entire border area was gripped by tension. The protesters at Gingal and Dwara were demanding removal of the CISF men from the area. “Several highway towns observed complete shutdown in protest while it would continue on Tuesday as well,” they said. The PHE and Irrigation minister, Taj Mohi-ud-din, who also represents the area in the assembly, rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. He was accompanied by the minister of state for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani, and the director-general of police, Kuldeep Khoda. Eyewitnesses said nearly 400 people had staged a sit-in outside the gate of the Uri power project run by the government of India subsidiary, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, at Boniyar this morning to protest lack of electricity. Shouting slogans against the National Conference-led government and PDD and PHE authorities, the protesters obstructed the movement of vehicles on Srinagar-Uri highway. Local officials, the sub-divisional magistrate and the deputy superintendent of police, also visited the spot but left soon after, locals said. However, the situation took an ugly turn between 1 pm and 1.30 pm, when the CISF personnel, some of them in civvies, guarding the power station gate, opened unprovoked fire on the protesters killing 12th class student Muhammad Altaf Sood son of Bashir Ahamd and injuring Parvaiz Ahmad Khan (25) son of Ghulam Hasan of Boniyar and Abdul Majid Khan (70) son of Wali Muhammad of Bimyar. Sood, who was not a part of the sit-in and was standing in a corner, was hit on his chest and died on the spot, eyewitnesses said, adding the protest was absolutely peaceful and the firing was “deliberate.” Soon after police registered a case under FIR No 1-2012 under section 302 RPC in police station, Boniyar, and arrested five CISF personnel identified as sub inspector Krishan Thapa, havildar Dwarika Prasad, and constables Pawan Kumar, A K Singh and J S Yadav. All of them were identified by the people. Meanwhile, the PHE minister, who visited the spot, termed the killing as “murder.” “It is a simple case of murder as the CISF personnel came out of their camp and opened fire on protesters. Two of the personnel were in civvies while others were in uniform,” he said, adding there was no need for any inquiry as it was a simple murder. “We will take back the Uri project from the NHPC and the decision has already been taken by the government. I conveyed the same to the people of the area,” he said. “When our land was acquired for this power project by the NHPC, we were assured of uninterrupted electricity. But right now, we don't get power even for four hours in a day,” a protester told reporters.