Valley’s separatist leadership calls for shutdown on Monday

The death of two young civilians in Army firing made the north Kashmir area of Sumbal tense on Sunday, even as the authorities imposed curfew in a neighbourhood. The police filed a murder case against a unit of Rashtriya Rifles 13th battalion and the valley’s separatist leadership called for shutdown on Monday to protest the two “cold-blooded murders.”

Residents of Markundal village in Bandipore district alleged that 18-year-old student Irfan Nabi Ganai was killed when the Army fired upon him on the compound of his house. They said Mr. Ganai had moved out of his house when he and his family members noticed some suspicious movements in the early hours.

“Irfan and his father suspected the men outside as cattle thieves. No sooner did he come out than the troops had fired and killed him,” Mr. Ganai’s cousin Parvaiz said.

On Saturday, Mr. Ganai received an honour from the principal of his higher secondary school for his distinction in an examination.

According to the residents, the troops opened fire, killing another civilian, Tariq Ahmad Laharwal of Kondabal, when some people were carrying Mr. Ganai’s body towards Sumbal for staging a protest. Mr. Laharwal, they said, was attending a wedding. He died of injuries en route to hospital.

Shattering months of tranquillity, the deaths sent shock waves throughout Bandipore district. Over a thousand residents of five adjacent villages gathered at Markundal. They shouted slogans against security forces and staged a protest demonstration, alleging that both young men had been killed without any reason and provocation.

Mohammad Yousuf Zargar, Deputy Commissioner, Bandipore, told The Hindu that there was “no need for an inquiry” as the charge (of causing death by firing) had been established against the Army. “On the people’s complaint and other reports, the police have filed a murder case against the unit of Rashtriya Rifles 13th battalion involved in the firing,” Mr. Zargar said.

He said curfew was imposed “as a precautionary measure” as hundreds of angry demonstrators had gathered in the area.