Srinagar: A day ahead of the second death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, government forces killed three civilians, including a teenage girl, in Hawoora village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Saturday, after protesters clashed with security forces during a raid carried out to arrest youth in the area, residents said.
The killings shattered an uneasy calm that had prevailed in the Valley for past few days after Governor NN Vohra took over the reins of the state for the fourth time in his career. Vohra took over after BJP pulled out of a coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The is the second time civilians have been killed under Governor's rule in Kashmir. Vohra at the helm of the government was welcomed by the most opposition parties and the people of the state.
"This is a war against unarmed boys and girls of Kashmir. This is a colossal and heartbreaking tragedy!” columnist, Arjimand Hussain Talib, wrote on Facebook.
The fresh killing is going to embarrass the Central government as Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leaders had said that peace in the Valley was their priority. There are fears within the security establishment that the fresh killing shouldn’t escalate into mass-scale protests as happened after Burhan’s killing in 2016.
Since January this year, 210 people including 58 civilians, over 104 militants, and 48 security forces personnel have been killed in the Valley in different incidents of violence.
The government had placed stringent security measures across Kashmir Valley to avoid any untoward incident. But the death of the three civilians, especially of the teenage girl, has brought outrage in Kashmir with people accusing the government of making Kashmiris expendable.
“Firing bullets, killing young boys and girls reflects the green signal given to the Indian Armed Forces to wipe off Kashmiri’s with absolute impunity to hold on to their territory. What bravery to massacre those who disagree with you! Kashmiris refuse to cow down before the Indian might,” tweeted Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of his faction of Hurriyat Conference, on Saturday.
Residents in Hawoora village told Firstpost on the phone that the Army appeared in the area to arrest local youths from the village. As army personnel parked vehicles in the village, some youths of the area came to protest and hurled stones on the security personnel's vehicles. The army personnel opened fire killing three civilian protesters and injuring several others. The police, however, says the army personnel had entered the area to lay a cordon and search operation when the incident took place.
Medical officials said the three youths including the teenage girl were brought dead to the Public Health Centre in Hawoora amid clashes between protesters and the security forces.
"Shakir Ahmad Khanday, 22, Irshad Majid Lone, 20, and Andleeb Allai, 16, were brought dead to our center. We have sent back their dead bodies,” Dr Ajaz Ahmad, a medical official at PHC Howoora, told Firstpost on the phone.
Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, a resident of Hawoora said that Irshad Majid Lone, one one of the three civilians killed today, was hit by a bullet in the abdomen. Dar said he drove the youth towards the hospital but he died on the way. “The (three) bodies arrived at the health center one after another,” the Medical Officer said.
The residents alleged that the army fired when they surrounded the village to carry out arrests.
“The army had come to arrest few people but they were met with resistance. They ransacked some shops and after that fired indiscriminately. Two died on the spot, while the girl Andleeb died on the way to the hospital," Reyaz Ahmad Mir, a witness who is a resident of Hawoora village told Firstpost on the phone.
“Two of them had bullet injuries in the abdomen,” Dr Ahmad said.
The killing happened on a day when entire Kashmir was witnessing a complete shutdown against the arrest of radical Islamist women leader, Asia Andrabi, the chief of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM), along with her two associates Fahmeeda Sofi and Nahida Nasreen. They were taken to New Delhi following their arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for a complete shutdown today across Kashmir.
In the prolonged protests that stretched for over six months after Burhan’s killing on 8 July, 2016, nearly 90 protesters were killed in the government forces firing while over 20,000 were wounded. Curfews and shutdowns were common across the Valley during the period.
On Saturday morning, Wani's hometown Tral was been placed under curfew ahead of his death anniversary, after militants appeared at his grave and offered a gun salute to him. “The militants fired six to seven shots in the air before leaving the area,” a resident said.
To prevent mass protest rallies amid fears of more militant recruitment National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had instructed the Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure "peaceful day instead of chaos on the streets", in a security review meeting in Rajbhavan at Srinagar, the summer capital, last week.
"There was already a general threat against security forces. The recruitment hasn’t increased off late, it is the same, almost static figure. We have been anticipating some kind of threat on the death anniversary of Burhan. That is why there has been an increase in deployment (of security forces) in these areas,” Inspector General of CRPF, Ravideep Sahi, had told Firstpost.
Army spokesperson, Rajesh Kalia, said that it was too early to comment on the situation, however, he mentioned that it was unlikely that the army would have fired indiscriminately without provocation.
"We are ascertaining the details of the case,” Kalia told Firstpost on the phone.
Militants appeared at the funeral of the three civilians killed on Saturday in Kulgam and offered a gun salute.
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Updated Date: Jul 08, 2018 08:44:07 IST