Two policemen charged with murder, tension grips J-K

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Apr 19, 2015 18:06 IST

Two policemen were booked for murder in Kashmir after they allegedly gunned down a teenager during clashes with protesters on Saturday, as tensions ran high in the Valley on the second day of demonstrations against the arrest of separatist leader Masarat Alam.

The family of the class 9 student, identified as Suhail Ahmad Sofi, said a police team chased the boy into a lane and shot him at close range.

Director general of police K Rajindra said the two arrested policemen — an assistant superintendent and a constable — were from Jammu and Kashmir police.

The teenager was killed in the Narbal area of north Kashmir where protesters pelted security forces with stones during a shutdown called by hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani against the arrest of Alam for allegedly hoisting a Pakistani flag at a Srinagar rally on Wednesday.

Expressing regret, police said the personnel had violated the standard operating procedure (SOP) that mandates they use non-lethal weapons for crowd control. The SOP restrains security forces from using live ammunition against protesters.

"We have registered a murder case and are investigating the matter. We admit SOP was violated and want to assure people that we have zero tolerance for such incidents and those responsible would be punished," the DGP said. The state government has also ordered a magisterial probe into the killing.

Police fire teargas at protesters in Narbal, Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

This is the second incident within a week of action by security forces raising questions. A youngster named Khalid Wani was killed in an encounter between the army and militants on Monday.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called the incident unfortunate, as its spokesperson, Waheed ur Rehman Parra, said “bullet cannot be an answer for a stone”.

The party, however, blamed the preceding National Conference government, “saying security forces were following the previous culture of crowd management”.

Massive protests erupted across the Kashmir Valley on Friday after Alam was arrested on sedition charges, and demonstrators burned the national flag and fought pitched battles with security forces. Around two dozen people were injured in the clashes.

Alam, arrested for leading dozens of protesters who waved Pakistani flags during a rally organised by Geelani, was remanded in police custody for seven days by a court on Friday.

Geelani and moderate Hurriyat faction chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who led a protest in Srinagar on Friday against the alleged killing of a youngster in south Kashmir’s Tral, were placed under house arrest.

Geelani called the strike across the Kashmir Valley to protest the alleged killings and police action against protesters. He also condemned the role of the media and said its coverage was biased.

Read: J-K police admit procedure violated in firing that killed Class 9 student

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