Kashmir erupted in protest on Wednesday after a youth was killed in army firing in frontier district of Bandipora. Locals accused army of killing Hilal Ahmad Dar in cold blood while army claimed he was killed in an "encounter".
Dar, 20, was killed on Tuesday night in Ashtengoo-Naar area of Bandipora, 55 km from Srinagar. The family and neighbours of Dar said he was "taken away by army personnel" when he was returning home after offering late evening prayers at the mosque. Dar, who was working in a cement factory in Srinagar, was visiting home during Ramzan.
"He was a pious man and a member of Tablighi Jamaat (a non-political Islamic group preaching social aspects of Islam). He had a flowing beard and that is why army men killed him for rewards," said a friend and neighbour of Dar. "He had torture marks all over his body."
"It is too early to say anything," minister of state for home Nasir Aslam Wani told HT.
While police believe it to be a case of mistaken identity, the army said the youth was killed in an encounter in a forest.
"We had laid an ambush after inputs about presence of militants. The army retaliated after being fired upon, resulting in a brief encounter. In the morning, we recovered the body and an AK 47 rifle," said Srinagar-based army spokesman J S Brar.
The killing comes days after J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said, "peace was gradually taking roots and days of desperation are vanishing". While separatists vehemently condemned the killing, North Kashmir remained tense throughout the day.
Youth marched with Dar’s body chanting "blood for blood". Police later took away the dead body to prevent escalation of violence. Angry mob then threw stones on police, who retaliated with teargas shelling and lathi charge. Many were injured.