Two Killed In J&K Violence On Eve Of Second Round Of Polls

22 November 2008
The Hindu

Baramulla: Two youths were killed in two firing incidents in Baramulla on Saturday, the eve of the second round of polling in the State. Eyewitnesses told The Hindu that 16-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Kumar was killed when a security guard of Mushtaq Ahmad Mir, Congress candidate from Baramulla, opened fire on a group of protesters who were shouting slogans against the elections. When the cavalcade of Mir was passing through the Khanpora locality, a mob allegedly pelted stones at the vehicles. The police said a guard fired in panic after the protesters, mostly youth, mobbed the cavalcade. Eyewitnesses said Kumar died on the spot as he received a bullet in the chest. As news of the death spread, a number of residents took to the streets. They started shouting pro-freedom and anti-election slogans. They also resorted to heavy stone-throwing while they were carrying the body of the youth through the streets where an undeclared curfew was imposed by the local authorities. Probe ordered A magisterial inquiry into the killing of Kumar was ordered by Baramulla District Magistrate Baseer Ahmad Khan. Section 144 has been imposed in Baramulla town to bring the situation under control, officials said. The CRPF deployed in the area tried to stop them and clashes followed. One more protester, Tanvir Ahmad Sheikh, was killed when the CRPF personnel opened fire. Sources said that of the many others injured the condition of one was critical. This deteriorated the situation resulting in huge deployment of police and paramilitary forces. Baramulla wore a deserted look as no civilian movement was allowed. Deputy Inspector-General of Police (North Kashmir Range) Abdul Gani Mir said the situation was tense but under control. He, however, denied that a second protester was killed in police firing. “There was no police deployed with guns in that area. It is probably a militant fire which has hit him,” he said adding that investigations had begun. Six constituencies in Rajouri and Ganderbal districts are going to the polls in the second phase on Sunday amid tight security. This phase will decide the electoral fortunes of 81 candidates, including National Conference president Omar Abdullah and the former PDP Minister, Qazi Mohammad Afzal. Nearly 4.94 lakh voters will be eligible to cast their votes at 530 polling booths in Ganderbal, Kangan, Nowshera, Darhal, Rajouri and Kalakote. Security forces have taken position well in advance in and around the polling stations, police said. Nearly half of the 530 polling stations have been named “hypersensitive” while the rest “sensitive.” All eyes are on Ganderbal, where Mr. Omar Abdullah is locked in a triangular contest with Afzal and Sheikh Ishfaq Ahmad of the Congress though there are nine others in the fray. Afzal had defeated Mr. Abdullah in 2002. Mian Altaf Ahmed of the NC is seeking a fourth straight victory from Kangan constituency.