M A I N   N E W S

Two civilians killed during Army search operation in Kashmir
Azhar Qadri/TNS

Srinagar, June 30
Two persons, including a teenager, were killed when Army men allegedly opened fire during a search operation at Markundal village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district today. The Army said it would investigate the incident and act against the guilty, if any. The police has registered a case of murder against the Army personnel.

The victims have been identified as Irfan Ahmad Ganai (17) of Markundal village in Bandipora district and Tariq Ahmad of Kundbal village in Ganderbal district.

Residents alleged that Ganai was shot when he came out of his house to check on his cattle early in the morning.

“As Ganai came out of his house, a hail of shots was fired. He was killed on the spot,” claimed Mohammad Shaban, a local villager.

He claimed when villagers assembled at the scene thereafter, soldiers fired and injured at least four more civilians. Tariq Ahmad, in his early 20s, who was staying at his relative’s house at the village, later died of gunshot wounds.

The police imposed curfew in the village and its adjoining localities. The area remained tense as protests continued throughout the day.

A district official said soldiers from 13 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) shot Ganai during a search operation and a few hours later, another youth was shot and killed during protests in the village.

“An FIR has been registered against 13 RR and the police will now start its investigation.

The Army claims a search operation was on in the village when the soldiers observed some suspicious movement. They opened fire resulting in the killing of one person on the spot,” said Bandipora Deputy Commissioner MY Zargar.

A state police officer said a case under Section 302 (murder), Ranbir Penal Code, had been registered against the Army personnel at the Sumbal police station.

Major General RR Nimborkar, who commands the Victor Force of Rashtriya Rifles, said: “We are carrying out a detailed investigation. I assure you appropriate action will be taken if there is any wrongdoing.”

The General termed the killings as “sad and regrettable” and said the troops were carrying out a “joint cordon and search operation” with the state police when the two civilians were killed.

“It was a joint operation by the J-K Police and the Army based on a specific input about the presence of militants in the area. I want to clarify that it was not an ambush but a cordon and search operation,” the officer said.

An Army spokesperson in a statement this evening said when the cordon was established, a burst of gunfire was heard from a place “beyond the cordon area”.

“Hearing about a youth being injured in the fire, an ambulance with doctor and his team was brought in to attend to the injured. The effort was interrupted by a mob and had to be aborted. It was later learnt that the youth had died,” the statement said.

The second person was shot when a “mob tried to set the ambulance on fire”. “While disengaging, the troops fired in self-defence, resulting in injury to another youth who later died,” the statement said.

“Notwithstanding the circumstances, the incident is being investigated and wrongdoing, if any, will be dealt with severely. The Army mourns the loss of lives and conveys the condolences to the bereaved families,” it said.

We’ll probe: Army

* The Army says it will probe the incident and act against the guilty, if any
* The police registers a case against soldiers of 13 Rashtriya Rifles
* Curfew imposed in Bandipora’s Markundal village and its adjoining localities





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