Other States

3 civilians, including a teenage girl, killed in Army firing in Kulgam

Relatives mourn Andleeb, 16, at the funeral procession at Kulgam on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra on Saturday chaired an emergency meeting of security agencies in Srinagar, as three civilians, including a teenage girl, died in the Army firing during the day in south Kashmir’s Kulgam.

A Raj Bhavan spokesman said the Governor expressed “deep anguish on the loss of civilian lives”. He reiterated the vital importance of the Army and all security forces strictly following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to avoid incidents of civilian casualties and collateral damag, even in situations of extreme provocation, said the spokesman.

The Governor had invited Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh, Northern Army Commander, also to participate in the meeting.

The three civilians — Shakir Ahmad Khanday, 22, Irshad Ahmad, 20, and Andleeb, 16, — were killed when an Army patrol opened fire when confronted by protesters in Kulgam’s Hawoora area.

A Srinagar-based spokesperson said the Army’s area domination patrol “was chased by an aggressive and menacing crowd of 400-500, which kept building up and coming dangerously close.”

“Some unidentified terrorists also fired on the column, which resulted in grievous injuries to soldiers. In response to this grave provocation and to ensure security of own troops, controlled firing was resorted, which resulted in unfortunate loss of human lives. The matter is being investigated,” he said.

However, locals alleged a minor clash faced “disproportionate use of force from the Army’s 1 Rashtriya Rifles.” “Do you think a 16-year-old girl will pose a threat to gun-wielding soldiers? They fired into the crowd when the provocation was manageable,” a resident told The Hindu.

Abdul Rashid, headmaster of the Government High School Hawoora, claimed the Army’s bid to raid the school and arrest a student has sparked off the protests.

“We pleaded before the soldiers and tried to save our student but they resorted to indiscriminate firing,” said Mr. Rashid.

Later, the Army fired at the people who started assembling in the area, the locals said.

‘Instil fear’

Separatist Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, in a joint statement said, “The use of bullets reflects the policy of Government of India to crush all dissent with use of absolute force and might. The idea is to instil fear in the hearts of people.”

The separatists have urged people to observe Sunday as “a black day against the Kulgam killings”.

“Present political situation in Kashmir is catastrophic. The international community should take note of it,” they said.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Congress and the National Conference (NC) also condemned the civilian deaths.

“It is unfortunate human blood is being spilt. The need of the hour is to put an end to it,” said PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Andrabi arrest impact

Meanwhile, the separatists-backed shutdown against the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) move to shift Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi and her two aides outside the State impacted life in the Valley.

Most markets, offices, banks and markets remained closed. The authorities suspended train services for the day. Later, in the day, mobile Internet services were also stopped.

A curfew was imposed in Pulwama’s Tral as Hizbul Mujahideen ‘commander’ Burhan Wani death anniversary falls on Sunday. Tral is the hometown of slain Wani. A red alert has been sounded across the State.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 4:00:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/3-civilians-including-a-teenage-girl-killed-in-army-firing-in-kulgam/article24358480.ece

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