SRINAGAR: Tension prevailed in Kashmir today as one more youth was killed in fresh clashes between protesters and security forces amid curfew-like restrictions imposed in view of the disquiet following the death of three civilians in firing by Army yesterday.
The state government, which promised thorough probe and punishment to those guilty of firing to kill the three civilians in Handwara town, suspended an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police for "mishandling" of the law and order situation after allegations that a girl was molested by a soldier.
Army today claimed that there was no molestation by any of its soldiers and to buttress its contention, it released a purported video statement given to the police by the girl in question in which she denies any involvement of any army man and accuses local boys of hatching a conspiracy.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is in Delhi on her maiden visit after assuming the charge, raised the matter with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who assured her that a probe will be conducted and the culprits punished.
Describing the firing incident as "very unfortunate", she wanted a time-bound probe and said, "Such incidents should not happen in the future."
She said the families of the victims will be compensated.
Northern Army Commander Lt General D S Hooda visited the affected area in Handwara and pushed for early completion of probe into the killing of the two youth and a woman yesterday. He termed the incident as "highly regrettable".
Meanwhile, Kashmir witnessed protests and clashes between stone-pelting mobs and security forces and police at a number of places.
A youth, identified as Jehangir Ahmad Wani, died in Drugmulla, about 95 kms from Srinagar, when security forces fired teargas shells to quell protesters.
With the death of Wani, who was hit by a teargas shell in his head, the toll in clashes between protesters and security forces since yesterday rose to four. Two others were injured.
A 55-year-old woman Raja Begum, who was injured in the firing yesterday, succumbed at a hospital this morning, making the death toll in yesterday's clashes three.
A police spokesman said tonight that 110 of its personnel were injured while trying to disperse unruly mobs at various places in the Valley.
Many areas adjoining Handwara town witnessed violent protests during which a shed inside a police post was set ablaze, the spokesman said.
In Srinagar also, some parts of old city witnessed stone pelting in which two CRPF jawans were injured, he said.
"Police exercised utmost restraint despite heavy provocations," the spokesman said, adding "Situation in other parts of the valley remained by and large peaceful."
The protests were reported even as authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in six police station areas of Srinagar city and Handwara area of Kupwara in north Kashmir. A police official said restrictions were imposed in Rainawari, Maharajgunj, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Safakadal and Maisuma police station areas of Srinagar as a precautionary measure in view of apprehensions of law and order problems.
However, the official said, in view of Baisakhi festival, movement of members of Sikh community was allowed.
Separatist groups had also called for a strike against the killings as a result of which most of the shops, business establishments and petrol pumps were shut in areas other than those were restrictions have been imposed.
Defence spokesperson N N Joshi, while referring to the purported statement of the girl, said "If you focus on the video released by us, it clears that there is no case of molestation. It is a malafide intent by some elements to malign the good image of Army."
The video shows a girl with blurred face saying: "As we were returning from school, I went to a restroom after giving my bag to my friend. A boy wearing a school uniform slapped me saying 'have all the Kashmiris died'? Soon many boys gathered there and he asked me to accompany to police station."
The girl claimed that the boy started verbally abusing her. "There was no one (from the army) inside the rest room. Hilal Bhai (a family acquaintance of the girl) was also there and he slapped me. He asked me what I was doing there (in rest room). I told him 'you know our family and our values' ... However, it seemed the two of them were in league with each other," she added.
In a related development, Assistant Sub-Inspector of J&K Police Mohammad Rafiq was suspended pending inquiries into yesterday's incident, a senior police official said.
He said a magisterial probe and a departmental inquiry are being conducted into the incident.