SRINAGAR: Two youth were today killed when Army opened fire in Handwara, about 85 kms from here, to disperse a stone-pelting mob which was protesting against alleged molestation of a girl by some of its personnel.
The killing triggered more protests in the town and had an echo in Srinagar and Pulwama districts of Kashmir as well.
Trouble started with protests by locals in Handwara over alleged molestation of the girl student.
According to the allegations, she was molested by soldiers posted in an army picket in the town, official sources said.
The protestors pelted stones at the army picket after which the soldiers opened fire, resulting in the killing of Iqbal Ahmad and Nayeem Bhat, the sources said.
An Army official, while expressing regret at the loss of lives, said the matter will be investigated and anybody found guilty will be dealt with as per the law.
A police official said the army personnel fled from the bunker soon after the death of two civilians.
The protestors then set ablaze the static army bunker in main chowk Handwara and attacked the police station by pelting stones, the police official said.
"The protestors, whose numbers swelled after the news of death of two youth, set ablaze the bunker. They also pelted a barrage of stones on the local police station," the officialsaid, adding police fired teargas shells to chase away the protestors.
The incident in Handwara had an echo in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, as also in Pulwama in south Kashmir, where protests erupted and stone-pelting incidents were reported at some places, the official said.
Additional police personnel have been deployed in sensitive areas of the city to maintain law and order.
Political parties, like National Conference and Congress, expressed grief and shock over deaths and demanded that a probe so that the guilty could be punished.
Separatist outfit Hurriyat Conference headed by hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani gave a call for shutdown tomorrow.
Youth Killed in Army Firing Was Budding Cricketer
One of the two youth killed today in army firing in Handwara town of Kashmir was a budding cricketer and had attended a national level Under-19 cricket camp three years back.
Nayeem Bhat, a student of Government Degree College Handwara, died when army opened fire to disperse a stone-pelting mob which was protesting against alleged molestation of a girl in the town, about 85 kilometres from here.
A budding top order batsman, Nayeem had attended an Under-19 national level camp three years ago, his friends claimed.
Several photographs of Nayeem at various cricketing events, including a net session with Jammu and Kashmir's starall-rounder Parvez Rasool, were being circulated on social networking sites soon after his death.
In one picture, Bhat is seen shaking hands with a senior police officer before the start of a recent cricket tournament in the district.
"Nayeem was crazy about cricket but his journey has been cut short," said Waseem Ahmad, a childhood friend of the deceased youth.