Abandoned and littered weapons continue to kill people in Kashmir as two more, including a 15 year old teenager, were killed and eight injured in Kupwara district on Tuesday. With these deaths, the total people killed this year due to abandoned explosives reached eight.
"A teenager, who studies in a nearby school, found the explosives and was trying to beat it with a stone when it exploded killing two and injuring eight others," additional superintendent of police Haseen Rehman Bhat Told HT.
The victims have been identified as Mudasir Ahmad Khan, 15 and Ali Mohammad Bhat, 45. One critically injured was shifted to a Srinagar hospital.
Bhat said the police is inquiring about the nature of the explosive material. "It needs thorough investigations to see whether it was a grenade or a shell and where it was found. Unfortunately the boy who found it is dead," he said.
The incident spot is just 15 km from Kupwara town, around 90 km north of Srinagar, near Maidanpora area. Kupwara is near the Line of Control (LoC) and witnesses frequent encounters between militants and security forces.
"The spot where the explosion occurred is Lolab area, away from the Line of Control. The area has rich vegetation and vast areas under forest greens. It's very difficult to sanitise it," said Bhat.
The area witnessed a major encounter on July 15 this year, in which five top militant commanders and a soldier were killed. "The encounter site is 15 minutes walk from the spot of today's explosion," said the police officer.
This is second such incident in Kupwara. On March 10, three teenagers were injured when an object exploded while being fiddled by the victims in Kupwara. Kashmir saw four major such incidents this year, leaving six dead and several injured.
"We have active road opening parties in Kupwara but it's difficult to sanitise the entire area. We will organise awareness programme with the local population to sensitise them not to fiddle with abandoned objects. Since there is a huge army presence, we will rope in army in the awareness programmes, which is only preventive measure," said SP Bhat.
India is a signatory of the United Nations Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW)-2003, which makes it mandatory for the government to clear the explosives left behind during gunfights in Kashmir or elsewhere. Tuesday's deaths have again brought the issue of non-compliance and laxity of the security forces to the focus.