2 youths killed in alleged army firing in Bandipora, trigger protests
In a swift action, Police filed an FIR against unknown army personnel under Section 302 IPC(murder) in connection with the deaths in the back-to-back episodes in Sumbal area. One youth was also injured in the firing, police said.
"Two youths have been killed in army firing this morning. It is a very unfortunate incident," Minister for Higher Education Mohammad Akbar Lone, who is also the local MLA, told PTI.
The deceased youths have been identified as Irfan Ahmad Ganaie and Irshad Ahmad Dar, both residents of Markundal village in Sumbal area, 25 kms from here.
Protests erupted at several places in Bandipora district in north Kashmir against the killings that took place at around 3.30 AM amid allegations that the army firing was unprovoked.
Army has begun an investigation into the incident. "Investigation has been ordered into the incident. If any army personnel is found guilty, he will be dealt strictly," Major General R R Nimbodkar, the General Officer Commanding of the counter insurgency Victor Force, told reporters at Awanitpora headquarters, 30 km from here.
An army official said while it had no hand in the killing of one youth, the other died when the troops opened firing in self defence as a mob tried to set an army ambulance afire.
"Based on intelligence inputs about movement of militants through the area, an ambush was laid. Firing shots were heard outside the cordon area and later it was found that one youth has been killed," the official said.
Another youth had sustained bullet injury in the firing incident, police said, adding he is out of danger.
The army official said some time later when an army ambulance was carrying doctors and some other staff through the area, a mob attacked it and tried to set the vehicle on fire.
"The troops opened firing in self defence, which resulted in the death of the second youth," the official added.
Fresh protests broke out in Markundal, Naidkhai and Sumbal areas of the district after the burial of one of the youth, which left several persons injured including the Superintendent of Police Bashir Ahmad Khan.
A police spokesman said the situation has been brought under control. Police officials, who are monitoring the situation, are tight-lipped about the incident.
Gen Nimbodkar said army and police had launched a joint operation in the area based on specific information about presence of militants in the area.
"I cannot disclose further details of the operation as investigations are on," he added.
He said after protests broke out in the area, army troops have been withdrawn there.
The separatists groups have condemned the incident and called for a Valley-wide shutdown in protest tomorrow.
The bodies of the two youth were handed over to their relatives for last rites.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also condemned the killings, saying, "Army’s firing in the area was totally unwarranted.
"It reflected how deeply the culture of impunity had become entrenched in the state," PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said addressing a workers’ convention in Kulgam district of south kashmir.