Saturday, April 24, 2010

Troops kill father of 7 daughters

Keller (Shopian), Apr 24: The army troopers on Saturday shot dead a civilian and critically injured another near Keller, nearly 60 kms south of Srinagar. The killing triggered violent anti-army protests with demonstrators setting ablaze two army vehicles. Troopers later opened fire on protesters injuring at least four civilians.According to the residents of Chewan village, troopers of 53 Rashrtriya Rifles had laid an ambush in the area last night. “The army fired at labourers who had gone to forest to collect the firewood just before dawn. One of them, Ghulam Muhammad Kalas, died on the spot, another Manzoor Ahmad Lone sustained critical injuries while their another associate fled from the scene,” locals told Greater Kashmir.“They almost emptied their guns on them,” they said. “Two horses they were riding were also hit by bullets and were lying dead on the spot.”Police have claimed that the deceased and his associates were “timber smugglers,” but locals termed police version as a “blatant lie.”“They were labourers who had gone to collect the firewood. Had army asked them to stop they would have definitely followed the instructions. It is a cold blooded murder,” they said. Locals also raised the point why police was not accompanying the army if it had laid an ambush for militants.VIOLENT PROTESTSAs soon as the word about Kalas’ death in army firing spread in the area, youth took to streets and staged a massive anti-army protest. The angry protesters also set ablaze two army vehicles parked on the midst of the road leading to the village. The protesters were demanding action against the erring army personnel.Troopers later fired on the protesters injuring four youth, two of them critically. The injured were identified as Yawar Maqbool Lone, Riyaz Ahmad Mir, Muhammad Ahsan Lone and Manzoor Ahmad Lone—all residents of Chewan.MURDER CASE AGAINST ARMYThe Superintendent of Police, Shopian, Shahid Me’raj said, the deceased along with his two other associates was returning home after dumping the “smuggled timber” at some place.“When they reached near Chewan, troopers who had laid ambush in the area, suspected them as militants and challenged them. They tried to run away following which troopers opened fire killing one of them on the spot and injuring his other associate”.He said police have registered a murder case (FIR. No. 168/10) against Army under section 302 RPC.Asked about the army firing on the protesters, he said: “Protesters set ablaze two army vehicles following which troopers had to fire in self-defence.”Police have also registered an FIR No 169/2010 under section 148, 147, 435 RPC against the protesters for taking law into their hands.ARMY VERSIONArmy’s Srinagar-based spokesman, Lt Col J S Brar said, “As per our inputs we had information about the presence of militants in the area and we had laid an ambush at around 4:00 am in the area. On seeing some persons riding on the horses, our men got suspicious and asked them to stop but despite our repeated warnings they tried to run away, forcing us to suspect them as militants and open fire on them.”However, he denied the allegations that the army men fired on the protesters. “Troops did not open fire despite mob torching two of our vehicles. We don’t know who fired on them. Police and the officials of the district administration were present on the spot.”DC SPEAKSThe Deputy Commissioner, Shopian, Abdul Majid Khanday, admitted that the army was involved in the killings, “There is no need to order magisterial probe as the army has admitted that its men are involved. A murder case has been registered against the army and the law will take its own course.”On the firing on the protesters he said, “Troopers were forced to open fire on as mob went on rampage and set ablaze some of their vehicles.”PDP CONDEMNSStrongly condemning killing of Ghulam Muhammad Kalas, in Chewan village in Keller followed by firing on unarmed protesters, president of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti regretted that situation in Kashmir Valley has been deteriorating with every passing day due to “wrong policies” of the National Conference led coalition in the state.“Incidents of human rights violation have been increasing but the government is not seriously stopping such incidents,” Mehbooba said in a statement.She pointed out during the last 15 months incidents of HR violations have increased manifold as the government has failed to keep “security forces under control.”She reiterated demand of her party that Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) should be revoked to avoid recurrence of such incidents. “Perpetrators of human right violation have been taking benefit of harsh laws like AFSPA and revocation of such acts was must to stop killing of innocent people.”

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