"My Son Has Been Killed in Cold Blood": Massive Protests in Handwara
SRINAGAR: Agitated protesters clashed with government forces in north Kashmir's Handwara after the family of a youth, described by the Army as a militant, alleged that their son, a third year college student, was abducted by the Army and later bumped off in a staged encounter for monetary rewards.
According to reports, protesters who are demanding an FIR against the accused Army personnel, clashed with the forces in Handwara area today and resorted to arson, setting fire to the Deputy Commissioner's car, even as they refuse to bury the body of the youth, Shahid Ahmad, a student at Degree College Handwara.
Massive nocturnal protests and anti-India and pro-freedom sloganeering broke out in Ramhal area of Handwara on Wednesday night after the body of Shahid was brought home for burial. However, his family refused to perform the last rites, demanding an FIR against the Army.
"Police has already clarified that he was not involved in any militancy- related activities. We are in the process of identifying the personnel who were involved in the operation during which the youth was killed. Tensions are high in the area but we have assured his family that strict action will be taken against culprits," Khalid Jehangir, Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara, told The Citizen.
A resident of Daril Tarathpora in Handwara, Shahid had gone missing from last two days. "He left home on Monday afternoon to make some purchases. We searched for him everywhere and even used social media to trace him but to no avail," Bashir Ahmad, father of Shahid, told The Citizen over phone.
Bashir said he got to know about Shahid's "abduction" by the Army on Tuesday night, "While he was returning home, a posse of army personnel abducted him in an official vehicle. Since, his whereabouts were not known. They may have falsely accused him of being a militant and killed him for monetary rewards," he alleged.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Army claimed to have killed a militant in Hafrada forests where a massive counter-insurgency operation is still underway. Police sources said the Army intimated them about a body lying in the area where the encounter was going on.
Bashir said he got a phone call on late Wednesday afternoon to identify a body at Vilgam army camp. "When I went there, the bullet-riddled body of my missing son was lying there. He was not remotely connected with militancy. He has been killed in cold-blood,” Ahmad alleged.
As Shahid’s body was brought to his native village, hundreds of mourners, including women and children gathered in the area and shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. The body was placed in Tarathpora square with the protesters refusing to lay him to rest till late Wednesdaynight. Protests and clashes are going on in the area when this report was filed.
(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR of mourners at the recent funeral of LeT Commander Ayub Lelhari killed in a security ambush)