J&K Simmers As Army Firing Leaves 2 Dead

J&K Simmers As Army Firing Leaves 2 Dead

30 June 2013
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: Parts of Jammu and Kashmir’s northern district of Bandipore erupted early on Sunday after the killing of two local youth by the Army. With the incident raising tensions across the Valley. the authorities ordered a probe and promised 'strict action' against the soldiers if they were found guilty. The police registered a case against a local unit of the Army’s counter-insurgency Rash triya Rifles. Security was beefed up further with the deployment of police and CRPF reinforce ments in cities and towns across Kashmir. The killings come just days after suspected militants killed eight Army jawans and two policemen and injured over two dozen others in a series of sneak attacks in Srinagar and Sopore town. Two such major attacks were carried out immediately before and during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to the state last week. Gulam Nabi Ganal, father of Irfan Ahmed, one of the slain youth, said since the area (Markundal, Naidkhai) had seen several cattle thefts in recent weeks, his teenage son had volunteered to stand guard at their cowshed for the night. At around 3.30 am a group of soldiers reached the area in a vehicle with private registration plates (JKO5A 9915). 'My son, thinking they could be cat tle-lifters, raised an alarm. The soldiers alighted from their vehicle, first hit him with a lathi and then shot him twice in the head and leg,' he claimed. Later, when the villagers held protests and turned ‘Îo1erit the soldiers opened fire again, killing another youth, identified as 25-year- old Irshad Ahmed Dar, reports said. The Army sa Id troops had opened fire in self-defence as a mob tried to set an Army ambulance carrying doctors through the area on fire. On the first killing, it said based on intelligence inputs on militants’ move ments through the area, an ambush was laid. 'Firing of shots was heard outside the cordon area and later it was found one person has been killed.' it added. The Army said later it 'deeply condoled' the deaths and promised action against any of its jawans if they were found guilty. A senior Army officer said at a hurriedly-called press conference: 'I deeply condole the deaths of the two persons. Our hearts go out to the bereaved familles.' Maj. Gen. R.R. Nimbhorkar, GOC of the Army’s Victor Force, told reporters at the RR’s head quarters in South Kashmir’s Awantipora: 'We’ve ordered an investigation into the incident. I can assure you that any body found guilty in the incident will be punished.' He claimed that the oper ation was jointly conduct ed with the state police. The state’s major political parties termed the incident as 'unfortunate' and urged that calm be maintained. The separatist groups alleged that the killings were 'a part of New Delhi’s design to suppress the ongoing struggle for freedom by inflicting ter rible atrocities on the local population, including killing people in ran dom actions', and called for a protest strike on Monday. The police detained pro- independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Mailk on his way to Markundal.