April 2016 News

Army Faces Murder Charges In Handwara Firing

18 April 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Police have registered a murder case against Army in the firing incident at Handwara in district Kupwara that took place last week and led to the killing of three persons after a mob tried to set afire their bunker and ransack it. A senior Police officer told Excelsior that a case (FIR No 131-2016) under Section 302 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) was registered against 21-Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of Army in Police Station Handwara for allegedly firing on protesters who were protesting against alleged molestation attempt by an Army jawan. The Army and the girl denied any molestation attempt by Army jawan. The girl, however, alleged that two boys leveled molestation allegation against Army jawan and beat her. Sources said that Police tonight arrested one of the boys who alleged that the Handwara school girl was molested by an Army man that led to massive protests and firing by security forces and killing of 5 persons. Last week on April 12, a mob, according to police, assaulted the Army personnel, ransacked a bunker and attempted to set it afire after alleged molestation of a girl by an Army man in Handwara town of Kupwara district. The security forces, as per police, used force to disperse the violent rampaging mob that led to the killing of two persons Mohammad Iqbal and Nayeem Qadir Bhat. A woman who was working in her kitchen garden was also killed by a stray bullet. Police registered a case under Section 302 of RPC against the Army unit whose troops were posted in the bunker in Main Chowk Handwara. This is for the second time since November 3, 2014 that murder case was registered against Army. In November 2014, 53-RR of Army allegedly fired at a Maruti car in Chatergam in Budgam district killing two persons as they mistook them for Fidayeen. A senior police officer said that they have registered four FIRs in Handwara incident. The first FIR (No. 130-2016) was registered under Sections 509, 506, 341, 354 RPC against those who spread rumor of molestation of the girl, second FIR is against army (FIR No. 131-2016) under Section 302 against army unit for opening fire upon protesters, third FIR (No. 132-2016) under Sections 148, 149, 307, 436 RPC against the group of people who set on fire bunkers and vandalized Government property and fourth FIR (No. 133-2016) under Sections 148, 149, 307, 332, 427, 511 RPC against the group of people for attacking Police Station and damaging vehicles. In the meantime, Deputy Commissioner Kupwara today suspended five Government employees for creating law and order problem and 'provoking local youths for stone pelting' in their areas. Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, Rajeev Ranjan, today issued suspension orders (vide order number 11-DCK-ADM of 2016) of 5 employees including two school teachers. The Deputy Commissioner has directed the Sub Divisional Magistrate Lolab to conduct enquiry and furnish report within 15 days. The suspended employees have been identified as Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, Master, Farooq Ahmad Bhat Teacher, Abdul Ahad Bhat, Peon, Hussam-ud-Din Shah, Peon and Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Rather, a mechanic in Irrigation and Flood Control. The Deputy Commissioner Kupwara said that army has accepted the removal of bunker from Handwara Main Chowk, one of the main demands of protesters. The Government has now decided that the place will be handed over to the Tourism and Social Forestry Department. Authorities today re-imposed curfew in Kupwara and Handwara towns of North Kashmir after protests and clashes raged after it was relaxed in the morning. The district administration Kupwara today relaxed the curfew at 8 am for three hours after five days. As shops and other essential supply establishments opened in the two townships and people were busy in shopping, hundreds of youth took to streets and staged protests against the last week's recent killings. They pelted stones on police and Police fired teargas shells and chased them away. At Handwara, the protesters dismantled an abandoned army bunker. The protesters at Handwara were demanding murder case against accused security men, transfer of all police personnel from the police district and removal of bunkers. Soon after the violence, the police strictly re-imposed the curfew and additional contingents of security forces were brought in both Handwara and Kupwara towns. The clashes also broke out at Trehgam, Nutnusa, Arampora, Langate and Kulgam in the Kupwara district. Atleast 12 persons were injured in clashes at all these places including Handwara. Meanwhile, hundreds of students at Valley's three varsities including Kashmir University, Central University of Kashmir and Islamic University of Science and Technology staged massive protests against the recent civilian killings at Handwara and Kupwara and demanded an impartial probe in the incident. The students boycotted their classes and assembled in their varsities' campuses. However, these protests ended on peaceful note and there was no violence.