Handwara firing Other States

North Kashmir on boil as death toll touches four

Northern Kashmir remained on edge as the death toll in the firing by security forces touched four in Handwara town, leading to a fresh wave of violent protests and a near-complete shutdown across the Valley.

Recognising the gravity of the incident, Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda and 15 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Satish Dua visited Handwara on Wednesday and described the killings as “highly regrettable.” They said an inquiry into the incident would be completed quickly.

Three persons, including a woman working in her kitchen garden, were killed in Handwara, more than 70 km from Srinagar, during a demonstration. Violent protests, during which an Army picket was set alight, were fuelled by allegations of molestation of a college girl by an Army man.

A video circulated on social media quoted the girl as saying that she had not been molested by Army personnel and that some local boys had snatched her bag.

Another young Kashmiri man, hit by a tear-smoke shell during clashes with security forces, died in the Drugmulla area of Kupwara district on Wednesday. The authorities had imposed curfew in parts of Kupwara district and curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar to keep protesters at bay.

However, violent protests were reported across Kupwara district.

Kupwara Deputy Commissioner Kumar Rajiv Ranjan, who met the families of the victims and ordered a magisterial inquiry, said: “There are conflicting reports about who opened fire. It is a matter of investigation now.”

A police source said the Army was considering the civil administration’s request to “vacate the security picket” in Handwara town.

Four First Information Reports “to look into the role of the police and the Army in the killings, besides investigating the mob violence and the molestation allegations” have been registered at the Handwara police station.

Assistant Sub-Inspector Rafiq Ahmad was suspended for “mishandling the law and order situation.” Relatives of Nayeem Ahmed, one of the youths killed in the firing, reportedly gave the cop’s name.

In a related development, a civil rights group, Coalition of Civil Society, wanted to know why the girl’s video had been circulated.

“Superintendent of Police, Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani Wani, must be subjected to investigation as his role in the killings needs to be ascertained,” a CCS spokesman said.

It said disclosure of the identity of the victim should “invite prosecution under criminal law as the video’s circulation has serious ramifications for the victim’s security.”

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who raised the Handwara incident with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi, said, “A time-bound inquiry should be followed by an exemplary punishment of culprits. Such incidents shake the confidence of the people and adversely impact the efforts of the State government in consolidating peace dividends.”

A State government spokesman said Mr. Parrikar “assured” Ms. Mufti that responsibility would be fixed for the Handwara firing.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 5:30:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/handwara-firing-issuedeath-toll-rises-mehbooba-meets-parrikar/article8470861.ece

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