One civilian was killed and four others were injured in Army firing in South Kashmir's Shopian district on Saturday triggering protests by thousands of people. Two Army vehicles were also burnt and an inquiry has been ordered.

Reports said that on a tip-off that militants were hiding in the Hanard forest area of Keller belt in the district, a column of 53 Rashtriya Rifles launched an operation in the early hours of Saturday. As the personnel laid an ambush for the “militants,” they noticed the movement of two suspects. The Army claimed that three persons entered the cordon from outside the village and they were challenged. They ran and the troops opened fire killing a civilian Ghulam Mohammad Kaloo on the spot and injuring Manzoor Lone.

As the news spread, people rushed to Chewan where the Army had parked the vehicles. Raising slogans, they started pelting stones and set ablaze two vehicles. Later, they marched towards Shopian town and en route tried to attack another Army camp. The attempt was foiled and Armymen opened fire injuring three youths. Two of them are stated to be critical in a Srinagar hospital. A senior police officer told The Hindu that the death of the civilian was an “accident” but maintained that the Army had violated the Standard Operating Procedure by not informing the local police.

Inquiry ordered

A defence spokesman said here that a high-level inquiry had been ordered into the incident. He regretted that people took the law into their hands. “Despite the efforts of Commanding Officer of the Rashtriya Rifles Unit to control the situation, and in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police Shopian, the crowd took law in their hands and burnt two Army vehicles. Any act of destroying government property will not be tolerated,” the spokesman said. Separatist organisations have condemned the two incidents of firing.