Protest over civilian's killing

1 May 2008
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: Even as the four-day-long operation of Rashtriya Rifles in Tsoornar forest area of Handwara has ended today with the death of two militants and one soldier, residents of another village in Handwara today staged a demonstration and alleged that troops of Rashtriya Rifles 06 Bn had killed an innocent civilian in custody. Reports from Handwara added that dead body of a mentally deranged youth, namely Mushtaq Ahmed Mir S-o Ghulam Mohammad Mir R-o Shaldora Fulmarg was spotted and recovered today in Hafruda forest area. He had disappeared in mysterious circumstances from his home during the night intervening April 4th and 5th and his family members had lodged a missing report with Police Station Vilgam on April 11th. After the dead body was recovered today, a group of people leveled allegations that Mushtaq Ahmed Mir had been taken into custody by a patrol party of RR 6th Bn when he had moved out of his home on April 5th. Even as the family members said that they had 'simply filed a missing report' and had not directed their suspicion on anybody, some residents insisted that the family had lodged a specific complaint against the local camp of RR 6th Bn. Defence authorities maintained that no party of Armed forces had picked up or detained anybody for questioning on April 4th-6th. They said that Mir was an innocent civilian and there was no reason for Army or paramilitary forces to take him into custody. Reports said that 200 to 300 people gathered in Mir's village and leveled allegations that the youth had been detained and killed by Army in custody. They forced shutdown in Handwara area and insisted on taking the dead body to DC Kupwara in a procession. Ding-dong clashes took place between the demonstrators and Police for over an hour. Police swung into action with use of force and prevented the procession from heading for DC's office. SP Handwara, Dr Haseeb Mughal, told EXCELSIOR that Mir's family members had submitted a report and it had been mentioned by them in Daily Diary Report No 11 of 11-04-2008 at Police Station Vilgam that Mir was mentally deranged. He said that some local women had informed Police after they had spotted Mir's nearly decomposed body in the forest area yesterday. DDR, according to SP Handwara, mentioned that Mir had left his home at 8.30 p.m. and had not returned. He said that samples were collected today and a post mortem was conducted by a team of doctors. The post mortem report was expected in a couple of days. Meanwhile, informed sources said that in all two militants and one soldier have died in the 4-day-long gunbattle between militants and security forces in Tsoornar forest area in Handwara. As already reported, Commanding Officer, Col A K Sharma, and another soldier had sustained injuries in the beginning of the operation on Monday. Later one of the holed up militants got killed. On third day of the operation yesterday, one soldier and one more militant got killed. A Defence spokesman, meanwhile, said that after the unfortunate incident of a live fuse exploding in the hand of a teenager at village Pahloo on 14 Apr 2008, the Army took the initiative of announcing 24 x 7 helpline whereby all sightings for stray ammunition could be reported. Announcements were also made in the affected villages asking residents not to tamper with any unidentified object. Consequently, one bomblet was reported by Abdul Salaam Haji S-o Abdul Nazar of village Sombran on the 29th of Apr 08. However when the bomb disposal team of the Army went on the spot the villagers also pointed out additional 14 bomblets and one shell of the Bofors gun. That such a large quantity of ammunition suddenly appeared at the edge of the village clearly brings out the fact that aim of sale to unscrupulous scrap dealers who continue to operate in the area offering a high price for the lives of the innocent people of villagers around Khundru. The Army again implores all inhabitants of the area to refrain from this high risk venture and to hand over all unidentified objects at the nearest Army camp.