SRINAGAR: A civilian was killed in army firing during an ambush in the border district of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering massive protests and clashes in the area on Sunday.
Police have registered an FIR and started investigation while the district administration has ordered magisterial probe into the civilian killing.
The residents of Thandipora, Kupwara alleged that sumo driver Asif Iqbal Bhat was fired upon by army men, who had laid ambush in the village, when he came out of his home last evening to start his cab to shift a local patient to a nearby hospital.
They said he received bullet injury in head and was referred to nearby hospital, where from doctors referred him to Srinagar Hospital for specialized treatment.
He, however, succumbed to injuries while being referred to Srinagar hospital.
His killing triggered protests in the village today. People including women and children came out on roads and blocked the vehicular movement. Chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, they were demanding action against the army men involved in driver’s killing.
As police reinforcement was rushed to the area, the youth pelted stones on them. The cops in retaliation fired tear smoke shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse them. The ding dong clashes between the two sides continued for some time.
Later, hundreds of people attended Asif’s funeral prayers amidst chanting of anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kupwara, Shamshar Hussain told New Indian Express that police have registered an FIR and started investigations.
Terming the killing of driver as unfortunate, he said every person would condemn this killing.
“We have started the inquiry and we will probe under which circumstances the firing had taken place and who had fired on the civilian,” he said.
He said the people have alleged that the driver was killed in army firing.
“We will thoroughly probe the killing and whoever is found guilty will be taken to task and law will take its own course,” SSP said.
However, army has termed the incident result of cross-firing between militants and security forces.
Defence spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said based on information of presence of militants in Thindpura village, army had laid ambushes to maintain surveillance over the area during the preceding night.
“At around 10.55 pm, ambush party observed suspicious movement of three persons near nallah in Thindpura village. The individuals were challenged by troops. However, they did not respond,” he said.
Kalia said thereafter, militants opened fire towards army ambush party which was retaliated by the troops. “In the crossfire, one person identified as Asif Iqbal Bhat was killed due to gunshot wound”.
“Investigations are in progress,” he added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, Khalid Jehangir, said magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the civilian’s killing.
He said ACR Kupwara has been appointed as inquiry officer to probe the killing of civilian.
“The inquiry officer has been asked to submit the report within three weeks time,” added Jehangir.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Opposition National Conference working president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, State Congress chief G A Mir, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik and other mainstream and separatist groups have strongly condemned the killing of civilian in army firing.
Mehbooba directed the district administration to speed up the probe to know the reasons behind the incident and punish the persons, if found involved in the killing.