Police asked him to run, then shot him as he fled, says Cousin of killed teen in Kashmir

As the body of 17-year-old Suhail Ahmed Sofi was being carried through the narrow lanes of Bazar Mohalla in Narbal area, angry mourners filled the streets and rented the air with anti-India slogans.

Sameer Yasir April 20, 2015 13:52:38 IST
Police asked him to run, then shot him as he fled, says Cousin of killed teen in Kashmir

Narbal: As the body of 17-year-old Suhail Ahmed Sofi was being carried through the narrow lanes of Bazar Mohalla in Narbal area, angry mourners filled the streets and rented the air with anti-India slogans.

Narbal is barely nine kilometres away from Srinagar, but it took this correspondent three hours to reach there as police and protesters engaged in pitted battles at several spots on the way.

According to eyewitnesses who recollected the events of the fateful day, around half a dozen protesters had gathered at Narbal to block the Srinagar-Gulmarg highway. The road-block was planned in protest against the arrest of separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat. Earlier in the day, the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani had urged Kashmiris to protest Alam's arrest.

At around 9 am, a contingent of police and paramilitary forces arrived at the spot to clear the road. The protesters started pelting stones at the security forces, who retaliated with gunfire.

Police asked him to run then shot him as he fled says Cousin of killed teen in Kashmir

Suhail Ahmed Sofi's kin mourn his death. AFP.

“Suhail was not part of the crowd of protesters. In fact, he was all ready to leave for the Government High School in Narbal where he studied. However, as a news spread that a crowd had gathered on the bridge near his house, he left the house, perhaps out of curiosity. Even if the security personnel thought that he was a part of the protest, they could have shot him in the legs.  Why did they kill him? He didn't try to harm anyone,” Sofi’s inconsolable mother, Firdousa, told Firstpost.

“He lay on the road, bleeding, for fifteen minutes. They (forces) didn't allow people to take him to hospital,” she added.

Suhail's cousin Shakeel Ahmad, who had accompanied the teenager to the witness the protests, said that the situation was 'normal' till the police arrived.

“At around 9:15 am, four or five boys started throwing stones at the police who had just arrived. Immediately after, one of the cops caught hold of Suhail and asked him to run. When he ran, they shot him. Suhail lay in a pool of blood. I tried to pull his by his arm, but failed. When I saw police coming towards us, I fled from the spot,” he said.

Shakeeel said that by the time he had managed to gather women from neighboring houses, Suhail has lost considerable amount of blood, "We begged police to leave him alone as he was wounded. But they were kicking him. We couldn’t save him," he said.

“He was in his school uniform - grey pants and white shirt - when he was killed," Ahmad said.

After the police allowed Suhail's kin to take him to the hospital, the doctors at the JVC Hospital pronounced him 'brought dead'. Dr Ajaz Ahmad, Medical Superintendent of the JVC hospital said Sofi had already lost a lot of blood before he was brought to the hospital. “He was hit by a bullet in his back. By the time he was brought here, most of his vital organs, including kidneys, had been irreparably damaged," Dr Ajaz told Firstpost.

The Jammu and Kashmir police has booked two of its personnel in regard to the case. Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gillani, said the killing of Suhail could have been "avoided" but the forces violated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and killed the youth. “We have been investigating the matter and whoever was deployed there violated the SOP,” IGP Gillani said

He admitted that after primary investigation, it was found that Constable Javaid Ahmad had fired with his service rifle on the directions of In-charge police party, ASI Manzoor Ahmad, in violation of laid down SOP.

“Both the ASI and Constable have been arrested and further investigation is underway. Inspector Khursheed ur Rehman, the station house officer of Magam police station has been attached for lack of supervision,” a statement issued by police said.

However, the FIR that has been registered in the case mentions several charges like murder, arson, criminal conspiracy. It is not clear what charges have been slapped on the policemen.

Suhail's death has pushed Kashmir to the edge once again with hundreds of young boys are pouring on to the streets across the Valley and clashing with heavily armed police and paramilitary personnel. .

Suhail's killing is the first civilian death in police firing under the newly elected PDP-BJP government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who preferred not to speak on the issue. The PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, issued a statement, condemning the killing and sought action against the culprits.

However, the killing has put CM Mufti's claim of 'zero tolerance' for human right violations under the scanner. Soon after he was sworn in, Mufti had asserted that he will hold the armed forces accountable for such incidents, in order to instill a sense of security in the state.

The opposition National Conference condemned the killing and lashed out at PDP for being "culpable" in both the Tral and the Narbal killings. A spokesperson for the party said that it was "tragic" that PDP’s much touted “Year of the Youth” had started with the killing of a youth in Kashmir.

Saturday's killing comes four days after 24-year old Khalid Muzaffar, brother of a Hizbul Mujahideen commander, was killed by the Army allegedly in custody in south Kashmir's Tral.

The twin killings have turned on the Heat on the political and security apparatus in the Valley with the Hurriyat issuing a fresh call for strike on Sunday.

 

Updated Date:

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