Mentally ill man shot dead in Kashmir

Due to rising attacks on security forces camps in the Valley, police and army have repeatedly issued advisories asking people not to venture close to camps. (DH File Photo)

A mentally ill man was shot dead by the army in south Kashmir’s Shopian district when he tried to walk into the army camp on Saturday morning, police said.

A police official said the man tried to walk into the army camp of 34 Rashtriya Rifles stationed at Pahnoo village of the district around 3 am. A sentry manning the bunker fired some warning shots in the air but the man did not stop, he said and added that the sentry then fired some shots upon him, killing him on the spot.

The slain man was identified as Rayees Ahmad Wani, a resident of neighbouring Kulgam district.

Due to rising attacks on security forces camps in the Valley, police and army have repeatedly issued advisories asking people not to venture close to camps. “For a sentry, it is difficult to guess their intentions,” the official said.

In the last 15-years, over a dozen mentally ill persons have been allegedly killed in J&K when fired upon by security forces near camps or VIP areas. The circumstances of most of these deaths are similar.

On August 4, a man was shot dead by security forces after he allegedly rammed his car inside the highly guarded residence of National Conference president and MP Farooq Abdullah at Bathindi on the outskirts of Jammu city. Earlier, on February 19, a sentry at an Air Force station on the outskirts of Srinagar shot dead Syed Habibullah a 65-year-old mentally ill man, who had crossed the security fence and came very close to the perimeter wall of the station.

Kashmir’s renowned psychiatrist, Dr Arshad Hussain, says that 70% of mentally ill people were cared for by families. “But there are still many who are mentally ill and homeless. Though they are vulnerable across the world, it is worse in a conflict zone,” he said.

Dr Hussain says the state has no halfway and rehabilitation homes which are essential for such people. “This is despite a team monitored by the Supreme Court having recommended the setting up of such homes,” he added.

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