M A I N   N E W S

Troops kill four teenagers
Army regrets, says a case of mistaken identity
Tribune News Service & UNI

Srinagar, July 24
Four boys were killed, three of them on the spot, when an ambush party of Rashtriya Rifles, who mistook them as militants, opened fire at Bagargund village in Kupwara district of north Kashmir last night.

The incident led to protest demonstrations today leading to damage to two government offices and blockade of main roads in the area against the troops, which had allegedly fired upon the youth despite having been informed about the movement of the villagers in connection with a marriage function. The police lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air to quell the demonstrators ransacking the police station and a government office.

Those killed by the Army included Manzoor Ahmad Shah (15), Bilal Ahmad Sheikh (18) and Waseem Ahmad Wani (12). They died on the spot, while another boy, Shabir Ahmad Shah (14), who was injured in the incident, succumbed to the injuries in the hospital later today. Manzoor Ahmad was the brother of the bridegroom, Mohammad Jamaal Shah, who was getting married today to a girl living in the same locality of Bagargund. The incident led to the postponement of the marriage function.

An FIR has been lodged at the local police station. A police spokesman stated here this evening that three persons got killed in the incident of firing, while another got injured.

Expressing serious concern over the incident, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed ordered an inquiry into the incident and asked security agencies concerned to avoid such incidents.

The Chief Minister has conveyed serious concern to the Corps Commander over the incident.

Meanwhile, a defence ministry spokesman regretting the firing incident appealed to people to respect the curfew timings prevalent in their area during night.

However, he said people could move out of their houses only after informing the nearest security force picket in case of any urgent need.

He said the Army had requested all persons to stop when challenged and not run away as it led to suspicion.

Giving details about the incident he said, on the night of July 23 four youths of Bagargund village had gone to attend a marriage ceremony.

The youths wanted to go outside the village at night despite being cautioned by the village elders not to stray too far.

He said the youths paid no heed to the advice of the elders and they seemingly went into the jungles and strayed too far.

However, while returning from the jungle, they inadvertently got caught in an ambush and on being challenged, they ran, which made the security forces suspicious and they opened fire on them.

The National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, the Congress, the CPM besides almost all separatist organisations, have strongly condemned the incident.

NC President Omar Abdullah, while condemning the killings, demanded a thorough probe into it by impartial agencies.

He alleged that human rights violations in the PDP-led coalition government had touched new heights.

He expressed serious concern that there was no let-up in the killings, custodial deaths and enforced disappearances.

A spokesman of the Awami Action Committee (AAC), headed by Hurriyat Conference chairman Moulvi Omar Farooq, alleged that it had become a routine for the Indian security forces to kill innocent Kashmiris, especially youths.

He warned that the killing of innocent civilians would affect the positive efforts to seek a just and viable solution of the Kashmir issue.

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