A Class X Student was killed in Kashmir during firing by security forces who battled stone pelting protesters on Saturday, the day hardliner separatist Yasin Malik and social activist Swami Agnivesh were taken into preventive custody as they headed to the village where violence broke out. Kashmir was on the boil for the second day on Saturday. Two policemen, including a SI, have been arrested and a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident.
Suhail Ahmad Sofi (16) was killed when the security forces opened fire while tackling protesters in Narbal village of Badgam, 18 km from Srinagar. The fierce protest took place on the road that connects Srinagar with the popular tourist resort of Gulmarg in J&K.
The J&K Police, in a statement, admitted that the standard operating procedure (SOP) were violated by those security personnel who opened fire at the mob in Narbal village. The protesters smashed vehicles plying on the road, police said.
After batons and tear-gas failed to quell protesters, security personnel used fire-arms against them, police said. Sofi suffered a gunshot injury and was taken to the Jhelum Valley Hospital in Srinagar where doctors pronounced him dead, a senior police officer told IANS.
Protesters blocked the Srinagar-Gulmarg road, squatting with the body of the slain youth. They refused to bury the teenager’s body unless those responsible for the firing incident were identified and brought to justice. Tension gripped Narbal after the news about the teenager’s death spread in the area.
The protest was staged in the village following a call for shutdown in the Kashmir Valley against the arrest of separatist leader Masrat Alam. Just a day earlier, over two dozen people, including security personnel, were injured in Srinagar where violence broke out after Friday prayers over Alam’s detention.
Earlier in the day, Malik, who heads the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and Agnivesh sat on a symbolic hunger strike in Maisuma locality of Srinagar city along with activists of JKLF against the government’s proposal to set up composite townships for migrant Pandits in the valley.
In the afternoon, they decided to proceed to Narbal village where the teenager died in firing by security forces earlier in the morning. “Yasin Malik and Swami Agnivesh have been taken into preventive custody to maintain law and order in the city. They have been lodged inside the Kothibagh police station,” a senior police officer said here.
Swami Agnivesh, however, told IANS that he and Malik were “not arrested, but only detained for 10-15 minutes”. He said he will leave for Delhi by evening. “I don’t know why the media called it an arrest,” he said.
The police statement, issued after the Narbal youth’s death, said police along with paramilitary police were deployed to contain the situation. The deployed forces came under heavy stone pelting. “To control the situation, they fired a few rounds,” resulting in injuries to Sofi. “Unfortunately the injured later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. We regret the unfortunate incident.”
It said that “preliminary inquiry conducted in the matter indicates that the forces deployed have acted in violation of the laid down SOP.” The state government overnight added charges of sedition and waging war against the country to Alam’s other charges.
On Friday, after being placed under preventive house arrest at his Zaindar Mohalla locality home in old Srinagar city, Alam was shifted first to the nearby Shaheedgunj police station and later to Humhama police station in Badgam district.
An FIR was lodged against him and separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani on April 14 after Pakistan flags were displayed and anti-India slogans shouted by youth during a separatist rally. (IANS)