A teenager was killed when government forces opened fire on a group of anti-Israel protesters in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district this afternoon, some 50 kms from here, an official said.
The incident took place when protest over the injury of a youth Amir Ahmad Parray in Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force firing in Mir Bazar area of the district on Friday snowballed on Saturday.
Parray, 19, a resident of Gufbal village of Qaimoh received a bullet injury on Friday during anti-Israel protest in Qaimou. He was admitted in SKIMS and according to doctors he had received a bullet on the right side of his chest.
Scores of people mostly youth staged a protest against government forces on Saturday and amid stone-pelting they were demanding stern action against the erring paramilitary troopers.
Eyewitnesses said the street protests continued for hours at Khudwani and Qaimou on Saturday. The protesters and the government forces clashed with each other. The protesters resorted to heavy stone-pelting while government forces burst tear smoke shells to disperse them.
“At around 3 pm, when stone-pelting and tear gas shelling was going on in the area, CRPF suddenly fired few bullets that created panic in the area,” witnesses said.
They alleged CRPF men from 18 Battalion fired a direct shot at Suhail Ahmed Lone, 15, resident of Misho Hawora.
Moments later people saw Suhail lying in a pool of blood near a shop where he was sitting when CRPF fired directly at him,” an eyewitness said, and claimed that ‘it was a case of target killing’.
Witnesses said Suhail was not a part of protest and he was sitting near a shop watching clashes between government forces and youth.
He was immediately taken to district hospital in neighboring Anantnag where doctors declared him brought dead.
Scores of people carried his body and marched towards Lal Chowk in Anantnag where police swung into action and dispersed the protestors near Bus Stand. As the news about the killing of minor spread, there was spontaneous shutdown in Anantnag and Kulgam. All the shops and business establishments were closed and transport disappeared from the roads.
A police official said that heavy contingent of police and paramilitary troopers have been deployed in the area to thwart the protests and stone-pelting incidents.
Suhail was the youngest son of Ghulam Qadir Lone who is a labourer. His family said the elder brother of deceased has already lost an arm in an accident while his another brother is mentally unsound. Suhail was a 9th class student at Government High School Havoora.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone Abdul Gani Mir said the incident was unfortunate. “We have taken a serious note of it and have taken up the investigation to ascertain the facts,” he said.
Meanwhile, Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat asked people of Kulgam to observe complete shutdown against the killing. But later in the day Geelani extended the shutdown call also to Anantnag district.
The killing evoked widespread condemnation. Strongly condemning the killing, State Secretary CPI(M) Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami said that the culprits must be identified without delay and brought to justice.
The CPI (M) leader demanded a time-bound judicial probe into the incident to fix responsibility and punish the culprits to send a message that no one is above the law. “Impunity for the killings has to end, or else the consequences can be disastrous,” he observed.
Main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and ruling National Conference also condemned the killing. Kashmir’s chief cleric and head of All Parties Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned the killing. He said: even in the holy month of Ramzaan, government forces were not desisting from murdering Kashmir. He stated that the cold blooded murder of Suhail reflects the motives of unbridled forces who are not allowing Kashmir people to even express solidarity and sympathy with oppressed Palestinians.
Thousands of people participated in the funeral procession of Suhail. Funeral prayers in his favour were offered at Qaimou and at his native village Misho Wavora. People while participating in the Nimaz-i-Jinazah of Suhail chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The youth was finally laid to rest amid sobs and tear, witnesses added.
A police official said restrictions have been imposed in some parts of the district including Khudwani and Qaimoh to prevent any law and order situation.
High tension gripped the south Kashmir area after news about the boy’s death spread in the area.
Senior civil and police officers rushed to the town to maintain law and order and to find out the exact reasons for firing by the forces.
Police have registered an FIR in the incident and matter is being probed, an official said.
Kashmir has witnessed massive pro-Palestinian protests almost every day since Israel launched its military campaign in Gaza. Protesters have burned Israeli flags and clashed with government forces at several places in the region.