Lecturer dies in army custody in Kashmir

Lecturer dies in army custody in Kashmir

Separatists extend strike call till August 25

Lecturer dies in army custody in Kashmir

A lecturer was reportedly beaten to death by army soldiers in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday, even as protests continued for the 40th consecutive day throughout the Valley.

Residents of Shar village in Khrew, 22 km from here, said jawans barged into their homes on Wednesday night and beat many of them, including women, and arrested 28 people. The forces, they claimed, dragged 30-year-old college lecturer Shabir Ahmad out of his home and whisked him away.

“Around 1 am, we were asked to collect his (Shabir’s) body,” a resident said. The army, while regretting the incident, has ordered a probe into the circumstances that led to Ahmad’s killing. “The incident is regrettable. The army will investigate the matter,” said Corps Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt General Subrata Saha.

Local media reports said 15 of those arrested have been admitted to hospital. They are in a critical condition, with injuries all over their bodies. However, police claimed the arrest was prompted by a scuffle between security forces and stone pelters,  during which one person died and four were wounded.

The latest incident is likely to stoke further anger in the Valley, which is going through one of the worst unrests in recent years. As many as 66 people have died and thousands injured in the violence, which erupted following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

Separatist leaders, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation, have extended the strike call till August 25. Meanwhile, authorities imposed night curfew in Srinagar and other districts in the Valley to foil the separatists’ call for a march to the UN office over a 72-hour period, which began on August 17.

A senior police officer said they have been ordered to enforce strict curfew and not allow any movement of people or vehicles. “The night curfew has been imposed to thwart the relaxation in strikes called by separatist leaders. We can’t give them a free hand as to when to open shops and when to shut them down,” he said. On Thursday, police barred the entry of vehicles carrying essential supplies like milk and veggies into Srinagar.

There were also reports of journalists being manhandled by security forces in several areas of Srinagar. A spokesperson of the Petrol Dealers Association told reporters that the government had asked the oil depots in the Valley not to distribute fuel to dealers, a move which could further cripple life in Kashmir. 

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