Seven passengers were killed and four injured as an army vehicle met with a head-on collision with a cab in north Kashmir’s Parimpora area on Wednesday forenoon, triggering violent protests.
According to the police, it was a head-on collision between the army’s recovery van and a Tavera passenger vehicle near Parimpora, around 10 km away from Srinagar.
“Seven passengers died and four received injuries in the incident,” said a police spokesman.
While the cab was travelling towards Srinagar, the army vehicle was on its way to Baramulla. Locals alleged that the army vehicles hit the vehicle on the wrong side. The impact of the accident can be gauged from the fact that the car's front was completely damaged.
The traffic on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, which connect with Muzzaffarad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was disrupted due to protests for several hours. The police lodged an FIR in the incident and seized the vehicle. “The army driver has been arrested,” said the spokesman.
The death sparked violent protests from locals, who accused the army of resorting to aerial firing after the incident. Eyewitnesses said angry protesters tried to set an army vehicle afire and hurled stones at soldiers.
The police said it has been brought the situation under control.
The army has regretted the deaths. “The army regrets the unfortunate loss of lives and conveys deepest condolences to the families. The accident is under investigation and all possible assistance will be provided to the police in their inquiry,” said Srinagar-based spokesman.
Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has called for shutdown on July 17, asked people to protest these civilian deaths too.
Separatist JKLF chief Yasin Malik accused the army personal of “behaving like tyrants as their vehicles run fast and such accidents have become an order of the day.”
“The immunity with which the army and forces work in Kashmir are responsible for these killings,” he added.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) too express shock and grief over the tragic road accident.
“The ruling government has badly failed in its duty to prevent the fatalities. There is huge indiscipline prevailing on roads and the government is seen nowhere to control the traffic,” said PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Awami Ittihaad Party president and MLA Langate Engineer Rashid said, “Army convoys are known for brazenly violating the prescribed traffic rules day in and day out on the streets of Kashmir. An inquiry should immediately be initiated in today’s accident and the guilty personnel punished duly.”
The deceased have been identified as Mohammad Rafiq Antoo, a resident of Dugliteng, Baramulla; Nazir Ahmad Mir, a resident of Mamkak, Sopore; Peerzada Mohammad Syed, a resident of Sopore; Mohammad Ramzan Mir, a resident of Sopore; Ghulam Nabi Dar, a resident of Krankshivan, Sopore; Ghulam Hassan Bhat, a resident of Dangerpora Baramulla; Zarefa, wife of Ashiq Hussain, a resident of Dever Pattan.
The two injured people were Ashiq Hussain Malik,a resident of Dever Pattan, and Sheikh Zahid, a resident of Sopore, were shifted to the hospital for treatment.