Two civilians killed in Army firing; probe ordered

J&K govt asks DGP to expedite investigation

Two civilians were killed and three injured when the Army allegedly fired on them in the Sumbal area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district in the wee hours on Sunday. The Army has ordered an investigation into the incident and assured action against the guilty.

Sources said troops of Army’s 13 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion were lying in ambush in Markundal village, 30 km from here, on Saturday night at around 2 am. Irfan Nabi Ganie, an 18-year-old youth, walked into the ambush and troops killed him on the spot without any provocation, they added.

Ghulam Nabi, father of the deceased, told reporters who visited the village that several cases of cattle theft had been reported in the area over the last few weeks. “As soon we heard some noise, Irfan rushed towards the cattle shed, where troops had already taken the position. They hit him (Irfan) with a rod first and then fired two bullets at him — one in the head and another in his right arm,” he said.

Reports said that as soon the news of Irfan’s death spread, massive protests broke out in the area, with hundreds of people coming on streets. A local resident, Imran Ahmad, told Deccan Herald that around dawn on Sunday, angry protesters, including women and children, attacked Army vehicles which passed through the area.

“The Army again opened fire, this time at the protesters, resulting in the death of another person, identified as Tariq Ahmad Wagay of Kundabal Sumbal. Three other protesters were injured in the firing,” he said.

Wagay had come to the village to attend the marriage ceremony of one of his relatives, reports said.

The injured were rushed to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science Srinagar for treatment, where they were reported to be stable.

IGP, Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir said the police have registered a case against the Army and started investigating. The area has been cordoned off by security forces amid fears of further unrest. Sources said the situation in the area was tense, with higher officials of police and administration rushing to the spot.

The Army’s Srinagar-based spokesman said a joint cordon was launched by the army and the police following inputs about the presence of militants in the region. “In the area outside the cordon, we came to know that a civilian was killed. We don’t know how he was killed,” said the spokesman, adding that violent mobs attacked the Army’s ambulance, following which “our men opened fire in self defence”.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Army’s Victor Force Major General R R Nimbhorkar said an investigation has been ordered into the incident.  “I can assure you that anybody found guilty in the incident would be punished,” he said. When asked whether he would confirm that the two people had been killed in Army firing, the GOC said nothing could be said with certainty before investigations were completed. Meanwhile, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a complete shutdown in Kashmir against the incident on Monday. While strongly condemning the killings, he alleged that it was in revenge of the killing of eight soldiers by militants in Srinagar last week.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has asked the Director General Police  Ashok Prasad to expedite the investigation in the case registered against the army for allegedly killing two civilians in Sumbal area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Sunday. Official sources said that taking a serious note of the Markundal, Sumbal firing incident the State government registered an FIR in Sumbal Police Station against those responsible for the killing of civilians.

“The state government reaffirms its stand of zero tolerance against innocent killings and has conveyed this to the security forces emphasising upon them to strictly adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) under all circumstances,” an official spokesperson said.

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