One civilian was killed and two others injured in north Kashmir's Baramulla district on Monday afternoon when the Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) personnel fired at a mob protesting against the state government for poor electricity supply in harsh winter spell.
Five personnel have been arrested in the case.
The civilian, identified as 22-year-old Altaf Ahmad, a Class 12 student, received bullet injuries above waist when a demonstration led by two recently-elected sarpanchs Bashir Ahmad Ganai and Raja Javeed reached outside the National Hydro-electricity Power Corporation (NHPC) at Boniyar village, 90 km north of Srinagar.
"We were shouting slogans against the government outside the NHPC building when I heard gunshots and saw three persons felling to the ground. I ran for cover. Isn't it our democratic right to ask for electricity with just couple of hours supply with minus 6 degree Celsius during nights?" a protester told the Hindustan Times insisting not to be named.
The government's recently issued power curtailment schedule with three nightlong and three daylong cuts in a week has the valley up in arms. More than a dozen protests were reported in and around Srinagar last week as power crisis deepens in the state.
The killing rattled hard-earned peace in Kashmir, which witnessed bloody summer of 2010 with 113 killings.
"It's unfortunate incident. The people were protesting and three CISF personnel came out in civvies and fired at protesters, killing a youth who received two bullets in his chest. One jawan who killed the youth was in his gym suit," senior Congress minister Taj Mohiuddin told the Hindustan Times.
The police have lodged an FIR for murder. "Five personnel have been detained so far," said the minister.
Mohiuddin along with minister of state for home Nasir Aslam Wani and director general of police Kuldeep Khoda visited the spot. "Rs 1 lakh will be given to the family of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to injured as ex-gratia," said Mohiuddin.
A statement issued by the government denied that the protest was against the state government. "The CISF is not a part of the counter insurgency grid and has been hired by the NHPC for security of their installations…We have taken up the matter with the Union Home Ministry and demanded stern exemplary action. The protest was against the NHPC and it should have sought assistance of local police than dealing with them on their own," said the government spokesman.
Kashmir is reeling under severe power generation crisis with its projects only capable of generating 90 MW every day due to low water discharge in local rivers against the requirement of 923 MW every day.
"People of Boniyar have given their land to the NHPC. People claim that water and land is theirs but not electricity. We intend to buy back Uri and Salal power projects from the NHPC, which will cost Rs 2566. These two projects will get us 1107 MW of power. It cannot happen overnight though," said the minister.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said, "The killing is the direct result of the chief minister's accusation against the people for being responsible for the current power crisis in Kashmir."