Four killed in BSF firing in J&K

Four killed in BSF firing in J&K

At least four civilians were killed and more than a dozen injured in a clash between a group of protesters and the Border Security Force (BSF) in Dharam Sharti village in the Gool area of Ramban district, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), on Thursday. However, sources put the toll at six.

The state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry to determine the exact sequence of events.  Eyewitnesses told Deccan Herald that angry villagers were protesting against the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by BSF personnel in Dharam Sharti village, 220 km from here.

The police said four protesters were killed on the spot, while two others died on the way to hospital. “More than 20 people have been injured, some of them critically,” it said.
Meanwhile, BSF claimed that a youth it intercepted near its camp instigated people by alleging that the force mistreated him.

Qari Shabir, head of a religious seminary in the area said that BSF personnel tore several copies of the Quran after beating a school caretaker on Wednesday night. “As thousands of villagers marched to the seminary on Thursday to protest, forces opened fire to stop them, killing and wounding several protesters,” he said.

Shabir alleged that the BSF personnel fired upon the protesters in the presence of Ramban Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police.

J&K Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo, who visited the area along with the Director-General Police (DGP), said that four people were killed on the spot. He said that 13 people are seriously injured and have been shifted to Jammu for treatment.
“Divisional Commissioner Jammu has been ordered to hold a high level probe into the incident. Those found responsible will be punished,” he said and announced ex-gratia relief for the victims families.

Reports said hundreds of vehicles, including those carrying Amarnath yatris, were stranded on the national highway from Ramban to Banihal as thousands of protesters blocked various areas of the district.

An official spokesperson said immediately after the incident, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah spoke to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who ordered a probe and assured that any use of excessive force or irresponsible action will be dealt with strictly.

Omar said: “It is unfortunate that despite costly lessons learnt in 2008 and 2010, some amongst us are determined to repeat past mistakes and use force against unarmed protesters. Such incidents risk throwing the peaceful atmosphere in jeopardy. Justice will be done and those involved in the ghastly incident will be brought to book.”

Meanwhile, in Srinagar, business establishments and shops in city centre downed shutters on Thursday. Earlier, clashes erupted between the youth and troops deployed in Maisuma area.

Authorities placed separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest, while JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was detained when he tried to lead a protest march in Lal Chowk. The separatists have called for a three-day strike across Kashmir.

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