Violent Protests In Kashmir Over Army's Midnight Shootout24 April 2010
The Economic Times
Srinagar: Massive protests broke out in south Kashmir against the killing of a civilian by the army in a midnight shootout. Another person skidded wounded and later in the day renewed firing on protestors left three others injured. Residents of Chewan, a village located in foothills of Keller belt around 55 Kms south of Srinagar, said they heard a burst of gunfire around midnight and in the morning they came to know about the death of a civilian. Within minutes thousands of locals assembled on the road against unprovoked incident of firing. Shouting anti-army slogans they were seeking arrest of the killers. The crowd traced two army vehicles and attacked them. Later, they torched two of the army vehicles and resorted to brick-bating on a column escorting the vehicles. In absence of police, the soldiers opened fire that left three protestors injured who were evacuated to the hospitals. Army spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said the soldiers from 53-Rashtriya Rifles (RR) had laid an ambush and the two civilian were seen moving suspiciously in the area that was cordoned. They were asked to stop, which they ignored forcing soldiers to open fire. The two civilians who walked into the ambush are believed to be timber smugglers but having no militant links. In fact, two mules carrying logs of timber were also killed in the nocturnal shootout. The slain civilian was the sole bread-earner of his family that comprised his parents, wife and seven children. Entire district administration is stationed in the Keller belt to douse the flames of anger and unrest. Police said they have registered two cases, one against the army and another against the crowd that set afire two army vehicles. Admitting that “it was an accident”, SSP Shopian Shahid Meraj said the troops are stationed in Abhama Pakherpora that comes under neighbouring Pulwama district and had come without informing the police. “The norm is that they should contact the local police that would accompany them (soldiers) but they skipped this part of the standard operations procedure,” he said. Security forces also gunned down two Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen militants - Tanvir Ahmad and Zubair Ahmad - in Doda’s Gandoh belt. Jammu-based army spokesman Lt Col Biplab Nath said a foot patrol searching the belt came under fire. “In the ensuing gunfight two militants were killed,” he said, adding that both were locals. He said two assault rifles and some ammunition was recovered from the spot of the clash. Militants killed a ruling National Conference (NC) worker in Hajin village of Baramulla last night. They also mowed down a cable operator in Sopore in the sixth assassination bid on his life. Police have registered cases and investigations have begun in the two murders.