Valley tense after killing of youths in army firing

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Nov 05, 2014 01:56 IST

Clashes between securitymen and protesters erupted in Srinagar on Tuesday in the wake of the death of two youngsters in army firing in Kashmir.

At a time when the militancy-hit state is gearing up for assembly elections, security forces were busy tackling curfew-defying crowds on Tuesday in Srinagar's Nowgam area.

A huge contingent of securitymen was pitted against stone-throwing protesters, who tried to march towards the Jammu-Baramulla National Highway. The clashes led to closure of traffic on the highway.

Tension gripped the Valley after two youth travelling in a car were killed and two others were injured when they were fired upon by army personnel in Chattergam area in Budgam district around 5pm on Monday.

The army admitted to firing at a white Maruti by the personnel of its mobile vehicle check points after it "failed to stop", and later regretted the deaths.

The army's Srinagar-based spokesperson said, "The condition of the two youth (injured in the firing) is stable. The families of the injured were immediately contacted and brought to 92 Base Hospital. The army is also in touch with the bereaved families of the other two."

The army also said it had initiated an inquiry into the firing. "Overnight, the personnel alleged to be involved in the incident were moved to the location of the inquiry," said the spokesperson.

Both hardline and moderate Hurriyat groups condemned the deaths. The moderate wing of the Hurriyat called a shutdown on Wednesday.

Stressing the guilty must be punished, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was kept under house arrest on Tuesday, said, "The killing of two innocent youth by the army is highly condemnable. A complete shutdown should be observed tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Earlier on Tuesday, the youth - Faisal Ahmad Bhat and Mehraj-du-Din Ahmad Dar (both in their twenties) - were laid to rest. They were residents of Nowgam, which is on the outskirts of Srinagar.

People took out rallies in Chattergam, 5km from Nowgam, as well.

The government late on Monday evening imposed curfew-like restrictions in view of Muharram processions in Srinagar. Concertina wires and barricades were set up across the city to stop protests and vehicular movement.

Abdul Ghani Mir, inspector general of police, Kashmir, said an FIR was registered in connection with the case, which many fear could disturb the situation in Kashmir ahead of the November-December polls.

The ruling National Conference (NC) asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to order a probe into the incident.

"Since the Model Code of Conduct is in effect due to the electoral process, the party appeals to the ECI to announce a time-bound probe into the incident or allow the state government to investigate and take suitable action based on the findings," said NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar.

The incident forced political parties to cancel election rallies in south Kashmir on Tuesday.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti called off her rally in Rajpora constituency in Pulwama district.

Similarly, the newly floated Kashmir Development Front, headed by former bureaucrat Farooq Renzu, cancelled its road shows in Budgam, Pulwama and Anantnag districts.

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