Two youth, including a budding cricketer, were killed on Tuesday in Handwara, about 85 km from Srinagar, when the army opened fire to disperse a stone-pelting mob which was protesting against the alleged molestation of a girl by some of its personnel.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the security personnel involved in the killing of the youth will be given exemplary punishment as such incidents cannot be tolerated since these have a “negative impact” on the state government’s efforts to consolidate peace efforts.
Army ordered an inquiry while Jammu and Kashmir Police registered a criminal case and began an investigation into the incident, which triggered more protests in Handwara and had an echo in Srinagar and Pulwama districts of Kashmir as well.
The trouble started with protests by locals in Handwara over alleged molestation of the girl student.
Giving details of the incident, the police spokesperson said that within minutes of the alleged molestation by an army man, public in large numbers gathered and attacked the army bunker in Handwara chowk.
They assaulted the personnel deployed there, ransacked the bunker and attempted to set fire to the bunker, he said.
“In retaliation, the security forces deployed (there) used force to disperse the violent rampaging mob. In the process, two individuals -- Mohammad Iqbal and Nayeem Qadir Bhat sustained fire-arm injuries,” the spokesman said.
“They were evacuated to hospital where they, unfortunately, succumbed to their injuries,” he said, adding police deeply “regrets the loss of life”.
The police spokesperson said a criminal case has been registered into the Handwara incident and investigation started to ascertain the facts.
Nayeem, a student of Government Degree College Handwara, was a budding top-order batsman, who had attended an Under-19 national level camp three years ago, his friends said.
Several photographs of Nayeem at various cricketing events, including a net session with Jammu and Kashmir’s star all-rounder Parvez Rasool, were being circulated on social networking sites soon after his death.
In one picture, Bhat is seen shaking hands with a senior police officer before the start of a recent cricket tournament in the district.
The incident in Handwara had an echo in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, as also in Pulwama in south Kashmir, where protests erupted and stone-pelting incidents were reported at some places, the official said.
Additional police personnel have been deployed in sensitive areas of the city to maintain law and order.