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Antony orders probe in Kashmir youth's killing

In the wake of strong public protest against the killing of a youth by the army in an "encounter" in north Kashmir, Union defence minister AK Antony today ordered an inquiry into the matter.

chandigarh Updated: Jul 26, 2012 17:58 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times

In the wake of strong public protest against the killing of a youth by the army in an "encounter" in north Kashmir, Union defence minister AK Antony on Thursday ordered an inquiry into the matter.

"Defence minister AK Antony has ordered an inquiry into the incident, which occurred at Bandipora in Kashmir Valley, and instructed the army to take strict action against anyone found guilty," said a ministry statement issued in Srinagar.

The body of a local youth Hilal Ahmad Dar was recovered from Astengoo-Nar area in Bandipora district, some 55km from Srinagar, on Wednesday morning which triggered protests in north Kashmir.

While the locals and family of the youth blamed the army for the "cold blooded murder" of Dar, the army claimed that the youth was killed in an "encounter".

GOC of army's strategic Chinar Corps, Lt General Om Prakash, had dismissed any demands of inquiry earlier in the day by saying that the army "fired on a group of militants".

"For us there is nothing to prove….It is clear. It was a group of militants," Lt General Prakash told reporters in Srinagar.

Hardline Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani termed the attitude of the army as "repressive" and called upon people to protest against the "innocent's killing".

"They are killing innocents for rewards. People should observe a shutdown against the killing on Saturday," a spokesman of the party said.

While the police maintained that it may have been a case of mistaken identity, the government ordered a magisterial probe to ascertain the facts.

People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said that probes have lost meaning in Kashmir. "The killing of Dar in peaceful month of Ramadhan has created an atmosphere of insecurity and people fear to offer Ramdhan prayers in mosques," she said.

"(And) seeking inquiries and commissions in such incidents has lost its meaning, given the swelling number of such official reports gathering dust in government offices."

Separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajad Lone said that the incident was a "reminder of the state of impunity that exists in J&K and the fact that the government had given a free hand to security forces to kill, harm and harass people".

Bandipora shut in protest
On Thursday, Bandipora remained restive as shops were shut amid a huge deployment of police and CRPF personnel on roads to restrict people from protesting. "The situation was tense but peaceful," said DSP Bashir Ahmad Khan.

While almost all separatist leaders were placed under house arrest in Srinagar, minister of state for home Nasir Aslam Wani along with newly inducted state police chief visited the family of Dar.

First Published: Jul 26, 2012 17:52 IST

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