Two of a family in search of son fall to bullets at Kupwara
14 May 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: A family searching for their son fell to the Army’s bullets in remote Keegam village of Kupwara on Saturday evening. Two women, including the boy’s mother and eighty-year-old grandmother, were killed while two others seriously injured in the shooting. The incident took place when an ambush party of 10 Madras fired when they noticed some suspicious movement at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday. The family 1was looking for their son who had gone to a quarry to fetch stones but had not returned. Villagers allege that the firing was unprovoked as there was no suspicious movement since the family members were carrying lanterns as advised for identification. A spokesman of the Kilo Force, however, denied that the Army’s Area Domination Party (ADP) had opened fire. ‘‘The fire came from the forests. Why will the Army kill an 80-year-old woman? In fact, troops helped villagers in removing the injured to hospital,’’ said Kilo Force spokesman Major Pratab. The villagers, however, alleged that the Army had prevented them from removing the injured to the hospital. They claimed the Army allowed them to do so only after Minister of State for Home Mushtaq Ahmad Lone’s intervened. The deceased have been identified as Sanuallah Magray’s wife, Saja and his mother 80-year-old Bhakti. Sanaullah and his accountant Fayaz Ahmad Bhat were also injured. They have since been admitted to Srinagar’s Bone and Joint Hospital. A case has also been registered against the Army unit with the police at Kupwara. Sources said Magray’s son Latief Ahmad had gone to a quarry to fetch stones. However, his tipper developed some technical snag while on way home. The delay perturbed the family which went out in search of him. They said that Sanaullah took a lantern and asked his munshi Fayaz Ahmad Bhat to accompany him to the quarry. However, his aged mother and wife also insisted on accompanying them. ‘‘When they were on their way, an ambush party fired on them killing two women and injuring Magray and Bhat,’’ said Ghulam Qadir, an attandant of the injured at hospital. He said the Army had directed them to carry lanterns after evening so that they are not mistaken for militants. ‘‘They abided by the direction and were still fired upon,’’ alleged another villager. To protest against the incident, some 2000 people took out a procession and marched towards Srinagar- Kupwara highway. They later withdrew after senior police officers reached the spot and pacified them. General Offocer Commanding (GOC), Kilo Force, Major General Dalveer Sigh also visited the village and took stock of the situation. Kupwara SP G.M. Dar told The Indian Express that the Army has asked the people to inform the nearest camp before venturing out after 7 p.m. He said militants were also moving about with lanterns in the evening. When asked why the Army did not challenge them before resorting to fire, Dar said that it was unfortunate incident. Dar said the delay was only because the Army was ascertaining whether they were militants or not.