As security forces in J&K battle terrorists armed with AK-47 and hand-grenades, officials insist the bigger challenge could be countering stone-pelting mobs and rumour-mongering such as the one that blamed central security forces — the most visible face of the Centre in the Valley — for the death of 16-year-old Zahid Farooq Shah on Friday.
Shah died of gunshot wounds near his house at Brane Nishat, 12 km from Srinagar where stone-pelting mobs gathered at several places to protest his killing; first by the CRPF, then the BSF and later the local police.
All three have denied any role.
“It needs to be investigated but prima facie, the bullet wounds on the boy’s chest appear to have been caused due to a small weapon rather than the Insas rifle (that forces use),” a CRPF officer posted in the Valley said.
Shah was buried on Saturday after the state promised his death would be probed.
Central security agencies, on the other hand, are studying footage of the protests and believe that one set of young men figured in more than one instance in Friday’s protests.
“They are also the first ones to start throwing stones at the security forces,” a CRPF official said. This means that after mobilising people in one area, they go to another.
State police officers said it was common to find that protesters, particularly the ones that come armed with stones, were not residents of that neighbourhood.
“They come as part of a design to use street protests to provoke the forces, and mobilise the public as they did during the Amarnath shrine board agitation of 2008,” an Intelligence Bureau official said.