Kid, Youth Killed In CRPF Firing, Kashmir On Boil28 June 2010
Times of India
Srinagar: In a throwback to the Jammu and Kashmir government's mishandling of the 2009 Shopian rape and murder case, street protests over the killing of two youth in CRPF firing in Sopore degenerated into a full-blown riot on Monday in which two more people - including a 9-year-old boy - were killed. The toll from CRPF firing on protesters over the last fortnight, that underscores serious administrative lapses, has now climbed to eight. The street battles that evoked images of Kashmir's troubled nineties, with separatists waving green Islamic flags, raised questions about chief minister Omar Abdullah's ability to control the situation that could be exploited by the Hurriyat to shore up its waning campaign. The spiralling violence could also undo the military successes against terrorism that over the past few years restored calm in the valley and brought about a new sense of security and confidence, leading to peaceful elections and a rebound of tourism. State law minister Ali Mohammed Sagar blamed the CRPF's trigger-happy crowd control tactics for the violence. He said the paramilitary 'lacked command' and had gone 'out of control'. Sagar said CRPF troopers' firing at unarmed protesters was 'unwarranted' and urged Union home minister P Chidambaram to visit the state and rein in the paramilitary force. The minister said the state government was helpless in controlling CRPF and that their actions were alienating the public. 'We can fight militants, Hurriyat and our political opponents but we can't fight our people,' Sagar told reporters. An official release said CM Omar Abdullah also spoke to Chidambaram on Sunday to complain that CRPF's actions were sending the wrong signal about the role of central forces in Kashmir. CRPF DG Vikram Srivastav claimed his troops fired in self-defence. 'Only rubber bullets were used. The CRPF men are exercising restraint,' he said. Reports from Sopore said 17-year-old Tajamul Ahmad was killed on Monday at Kapran after CRPF troopers fired at a group of people who defied restrictions to protest against the killing of another teenager in CRPF firing a day earlier. Hours later, nine-year-old Tariq Ahmad was killed when the troopers fired at another procession at Delina along the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. Dozens of protesters were injured on Srinagar's outskirts when cops fought with hundreds of young men riding motorcycles who tried to enter Sopore to join the protest against the killing of three men there since Friday. 'Go India, go back. We want freedom,' shouted the protesters. The victims - Shakeel Ahmad Ganai (14) and Firdous Ahmad (17) - were shot dead by CRPF troopers who fired at a group of protesters throwing stones and attempting to set fire to CRPF vehicles. Another youth, Bilal Ahmad Wani (21), was killed in this prosperous apple town on Sunday when CRPF allegedly fired at group of people that included children. Protests have flared since the killing of three youth in police action earlier this month. Javaid Ahmad Malla, 17, was killed and five others injured when CRPF troopers fired at the funeral procession of another teenager, Mohammed Rafiq Bangroo, in old Srinagar last week. Earlier, another youth Tufail Ahmad, 17, was killed after he was caught in a clash between stone-pelters and cops in old Srinagar. Eyewitnesses said motorcycle-borne youths chanted pro-Azadi slogans before cops dispersed them at Hokersar. Two boys were injured in police firing at separate processions in Srinagar. Hundreds of Kashmir University students held overnight demonstrations against human rights violations and the killing of youth in CRPF firing. Separatists led by pro-Pakistan Hurriyat faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's aide Musarat Alam moved to cash in on the anger. Alam, who took over after Geelani was booked under Public Safety Act and sent behind bars, announced a 10-day protest program dubbed as 'quit Kashmir movement'. Stone-pelting to riots, a distinct pattern Angry street protests have followed a distinct pattern since the 2008 Amarnath land transfer agitation, as militant violence has dipped to an all-time low since 1989. An incident triggers stone-pelting followed by police action which leads to injuries and sometimes even death. Often, stone-pelting degenerates into full-blown riot; a police clampdown brings uneasy calm but only until the next cycle of action and reaction. The cops have been accused of using excessive force and ignoring standard operating procedure (SOP) in dealing with stone-pelters. The CRPF troopers, who work under the local police's command, have particularly come under fire for allegedly defying orders to observe restraint.