April 2000 News

Angry villagers take on authorities in Anantnag

7 April 2000
Hindustan Times

Jammu: THE SITUATION in Anantnag has turned volatile with villagers forcibly taking out bodies from the graves that were dug yesterday in order to ascertain the identity of the dead. The exhumation of bodies was ordered following protests by the villagers, who alleged that the five men killed in an encounter with the Army on March 25 were actually civilians. While the identities of three bodies were confirmed by their relatives, two others were identified on the basis of their clothes found in the graves. Unable to control their anger, the villagers took out the bodies from the graves and shouted slogans against the Army and called for strict action against the culprits. They initially took possession of all the bodies, but later agreed to restore two of them, that of Zahoor and Mohammad Sadiq Malik, to the graves. However, they have refused to hand over the bodies to the authorities saying that the dead belonged to their community and would now be buried as per the proper religious rites. Several attempts by the authorities to persuade the villagers turned futile. The agitated villagers are now threatening to take up the matter at an international level. Meanwhile, the authorities maintain that the identity of the bodies would be confirmed only after the DNA tests reports. They refused to endorse or deny the claim of the villagers. With the recent developments in this South Kashmir district, tension in the Valley has increased manifold and the security agencies in the State are on a high alert to deal with any untoward incident. The State Government has appointed a one man inquiry commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice S.R. Pandian, to look into the circumstances leading to the firing. Chief Minister Abdullah is keen to get to the truth and has pledged to take strict action against the culprits if the bodies turned out to be those of civilians. Police lathicharge demonstrators: Police used teargas and lathicharge today to disperse violent demonstrators in Srinagar, who were protesting Barakpora firing by security personnel in which eight processionists were killed, reports PTI. About 3,000 people took to the streets after Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid and Maisuma localities of downtown and uptown Srinagar, shouting slogans against security personnel for Monday''s firing in Barakpora in Anantnag, official sources said. The crowd turned violent and pelted stones at the policemen who tried to persuade them to disperse, the sources said, adding that the police then fired teargas shells and lathicharged the demonstrators.


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