Civilian Shot Dead by Army in Kupwara, Violent Clashes
Cover Photograph Basit Zargar of earlier Pakharpora encounter
SRINAGAR: Violent clashes erupted between protesters and security forces in North Kashmir's Kupwara district today morning after the Army shot dead a civilian last night, in what is reported to be a case of “mistaken identity”.
This is the second instance of civilian killing in north Kashmir in less than a week and it is likely to raise accusatory fingers on the Mehbooba Mufti led government that is struggling to deal with the anger in the population following the killing of close to hundred civilians in the aftermath of Burhan Wani's killing.
Authorities have today suspended mobile internet service in parts of north Kashmir while security has been stepped up to prevent deterioration of law and order in Kupwara district following the killing of Asif Iqbal, a driver by profession.
Family sources said Asif left home last night in order to ferry a patient to hospital, “He was barely few yards away from his home in Thandipora when the army fired indiscriminately at his Tata Sumo vehicle, leaving him badly injured,” sources said.
“He was rushed to a hospital at Kralpora in Kupwara where from he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar, but he succumbed on the way,” official said. Today morning, hundreds of people stopped the ambulance carrying the body of the deceased at Batpora, adjoining Thandipora and staged massive protests.
Forces deployed in the area fired teargas shells and stun grenades to disperse the protesters who responded by pelting stones at them, sparking violent clashes that were going on in the area when this report was filed.
According to the police, soldiers had laid an ambush in the area following specific inputs about the presence of militants there, “The sumo driver was asked to stop but he didn’t and he was then shot by them,” senior superintendent of police, Kupwara, Shamsher Hussain, said.
The Army's Srinagar based spokesman could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.
Hussain said the police has taken cognizance of the matter and a probe has been ordered to get to the truth in the case, “It is very unfortunate and regrettable. But we will hold an enquiry into the matter and whosoever is guilty would be punished.”
The SSP appealed people to cooperate with the investigation team to know under what circumstances the civilian was killed. “We request them not to take law into their hands and cooperate with us,” he said.
A large crowd, including women and children, has gathered at the residence of Asif ahead of his funeral prayers. "People are very angry and a complete shutdown is being observed in the area in protest against the killing," sources said.
Earlier, on Monday, a woman was killed in Kupwara district near the site of encounter between security forces and militants. Officials said the woman was killed in “cross-firing”. Three militants were also killed in the encounter.