Two more protestors were killed in firing by the security forces in the Kashmir Valley on Friday, but in a swift response by the state government anxious to contain rising public anger, a CRPF officer was held for one of the killings.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested CRPF assistant commandant S.K. Das for the killing of Mudasir Ahmad Hajam (19) in Sopore, 48 km north of Srinagar. The other death in police firing was that of Nazir Ahmad Wani (22) at Bijbehara, 54 km south of Srinagar.
“The police have registered a case (against Das),” said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. “They have done it on their own, saying the killing was unprovoked.”
Friday’s killing took the death toll in the current spurt of violence in Kashmir to 61. It all started with the killing of 17-year-old Tufail Ahmed Mattoo, when he was hit by a teargas shell while participating in a routine protest on June 11.
“The message (of restraint) has to travel down the chain of command,” Abdullah added. “The paramilitary forces and the police are by and large doing that, but more needs to be done”.
Questions have been raised about why the security forces resort to firing so often without using alternative means to crowd control.
In Friday’s Sopore incident, the CRPF said a group of boys threw a broken bottle at a patrol party. “The bottle hurt a trooper in the neck and he fired non-lethal pellets (used to kill birds),” said CRPF spokesperson Prabakar Tripathi.
When asked how Mudasir died from non-lethal bullets, Tripathi said: “Maybe many pellets hit him simultaneously … we won’t know because it happened in the dark.”
Indeed questions are being asked on whether there is a conspiracy in the Valley to keep the violence going.