A 23-year-old ATM security guard was riding his Scooty back home, after finishing his duty on Tuesday night, when a pellet was fired at him, spilling blood all over the Scooty. Riyaz Ahmad Shah, who wore a black helmet, was found dead on a pavement next to his ride, under mysterious circumstances near Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar.
The body of Shah was so neatly arranged near his bike that at a first glance you could well have mistaken it for an accident, but his family blamed the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for his death.
Shah was returning home after finishing his duty at an ATM booth of Jammu and Kashmir Bank at Kani Kadal in Srinagar, Zahoor Ahmad, Shah’s brother told Firstpost.
“He was killed by CRPF men stationed near Government Medical College (GMC), when he reached near the bunker. There were no protests or stone pelting in the area; why did anyone kill him no one knows,” Zahoor said.
Police had earlier said the slain youth died of an injury inflicted by a sharp-edged weapon. But after the family insisted on a post-mortem, doctors revealed that they have found more than 300 pellets inside Shah’s body, and that he had been fired upon from close range.
Protests soon broke out in the capital and people chanted anti-ndia slogans throughout the night, demanding action against government forces.
Later, Kashmir police said a complaint had been filed in connection with the case and they are investigating the circumstances that led to the killing. But Rajesh Yadav, a spokesperson for the CRPF in Srinagar, told Firstpost over phone that he was not aware of any complaint lodged against CRPF nor has heard anyone blaming CRPF for the killing.
“We don’t know anything about this particular incident. You should confirm with the police station where they have launched an FIR,” he said.
But the family asked if the government is claiming that its forces don’t open fire on the innocents, then why was their son killed. “I appeal to the government to investigate the killing of my brother and how and why it happened,” Shah’s sister, Zubaida, told reporters.
“The marriage ceremony of our sister is scheduled to be held after four days, but unfortunately the forces killed our brother, which has shuttered our dreams and hopes as well,” she added.
Kashmir continues to be on the edge with two fresh killings of civilians; the death toll in the ongoing cycle of violence that began on 9 July has risen to 53. The protests and the marches continued throughout south Kashmir on Wednesday, as police and paramilitary forces clashed with protesters at many places.
Late on Wednesday evening, doctors said over 50 people were injured after CRPF and police tried to break up a car-and-bike rally in Adijan village of Kulgam in south Kashmir.
People in Kulgam and Shopian districts in south Kashmir had called for Damhal Hanji Pora ‘chalo’ to express solidarity with the civilians, who were killed on 8 and 9 July, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in Kokernag area in Anantnag district.
Eyewitnesses said people were marching towards Damhal Hanji Pora, when forces intercepted them in Adijan village, triggering clashes. They alleged that forces set ablaze dozens of motorcycles and cars.
Reports said that scores of protesters were injured in the shelling and with pellets. About 28 injured youths have been treated at District Hospital at Kulgam, while more than seven injured civilians were referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, South Kashmir range, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, said that 26 policemen were also injured during the clashes. He said that over 10,000 people were trying to march to Kulgam district.
Later, in a statement, Kashmir police said that 349 people have been arrested in its drive against “hooligans and miscreants", while 122 others have been detained under prohibitory provisions of law.
The region has been caught in a vortex of violence since Wani's death, and if killings like this continue to happen, it is highly unlikely Kashmir will return to normalcy anytime soon. Curfews have become a daily norm. Even if they are called off by the state government, people choose to remain inside their houses or start protesting against the killings.