Elderly couple, 7-year-old boy injured in security forces firing in Kashmir

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Aug 20, 2016 22:50 IST
A boy gestures at a member of the security forces in Srinagar as the city remains under curfew following weeks of violence in Kashmir. (Reuters)

An elderly couple was injured when security forces opened fire during a midnight raid on their residence in south Kashmir’s Tral region, and a seven-year-old boy was critically injured in a separate incident of pellet firing in downtown Srinagar.

Eyewitnesses say a joint party of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force fired on the couple when they tried to resist their son’s arrest in Tral’s Kamla Bachoo village.

The son – Shabir Ahmad Fallahi – is the district chief of the hardline Jamat-e-Islami organisation.

The couple – Abdul Qayoom (80) and his wife , Nazira Begam(75) – is admitted at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar. Qayoom has undergone a surgery for a pellet injury and his wife has a bullet wound on her shoulder. In spite of repeated attempts, no police officer responded to calls by HT.

Read: Kashmir Opposition leaders meet President, accuse Modi govt of failure

“Qayoom has internal injury as he has perforation in small intestine. Blood has also accumulated in his lungs and abdominal cavity. The damage is severe as he was hit from a close range,’’ said a doctor treating him.

The seven-year-old boy, identified as Junaid from Qalamdanpora Nawabazar, is said to be critical and is under treatment at the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.

SMHS medical superintendent Nasir Chaudhary told HT that the boy was hit in the chest. “His condition is not good,” he added.

Police weren’t available for comment regarding the circumstances that led to the injury, but Junaid’s family has alleged foulplay. “It was a targeted fire. He was hit on the chest,” one of them said.

The aged couple and Junaid are just three out of thousands of civilians injured in the Valley since violent protests broke out over the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. Kashmir has been under curfew for more than 40 days now and 66 people have been killed.

Jamat spokesperson Umar Sultan said the forces tried to arrest Shabir’s brother because the district chief wasn’t at home. “The elderly couple tried to stop the forces when they were fired upon.”

The spokesperson said Shabir was wanted by the police for organising anti establishment rallies and not any ‘’heinous crime”. “Nothing can justify firing at his elderly parents.”

The incident may further roil simmering anger in the Valley and comes at a time when forces have intensified nocturnal raids and curfew after Independence Day. The past few days have seen reports of excesses and violence pouring in from different parts of Kashmir.

Read: Army orders probe after lecturer dies in custody in Kashmir

The army ordered a probe on Thursday into the death of a 30-year-old college lecturer who was allegedly beaten to death in the force’s custody after being picked up from his home in south Kashmir’s Pampore.

Residents of Shar village alleged the army barged into their homes on Wednesday night around and arrested 28 people.

A day later, an ambulance driver Ghulam Mohammad Sofi was also fired with pellets from a close range while he was trying to ferry people to hospital. Sofi was hit with around 200 pellets in his arm.

The use of pellet guns, considered a less-lethal option by forces, has fuelled anger, with many protesters left dead or blinded.

The CRPF that has used more than 1.6 million pellets informed the Jammu and Kashmir high court on Wednesday that if pellet guns were banned, personnel will be forced to fire bullets in extreme situations, causing more fatalities.

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