Youth Killed in Army Firing in Kashmir

Srinagar, July 25: Indian army men shot and killed a youth in North Kashmir of Indian administered Kashmir on Tuesday evening. His killing sparked protests and more than 18 persons including 10 policemen were injured in the clashes.

Residents of Aloosa in North Kashmir alleged that 21-year-old Hilal Ahmad Dar of Lahipora, Aloosa was picked up by army men after he was leaving the mosque at Benliopra village in Aloosa after offering prayers last evening.

“He was tortured and killed by the army men in custody near Helmathpora forests,” they said.

As the news about the killing of youth spread, thousands of people of the area took to roads and staged massive demonstrations. The residents from villages Aloosa, Lahipora, Kema, Gurdal, Mangnipora, Turkpora, Ongam and many other villages joined the protests and blocked Sopore-Bandipora road for many hours.

Chanting pro-freedom and anti-army slogans, the protestors demanded action against the army men involved in the killing of the youth. “Army was telling a lie by labeling Dar as a militant,” they said adding Hilal was innocent.

The protesters refused to bury the body of Hilal until the guilty army men are punished. They tried to take out a procession towards Bandipora town but were intercepted by policemen, who prevented them from marching ahead. However, when the protestors resisted, policemen swung into action and used lathies to disperse the agitating people. Some of the protestors retaliated by hurling bricks and stones towards them.

The policemen, who were deployed in strength in the area, fired in the air and baton charged the mourners, who pelted stones on them.

Amid clashes, police took possession of Hilal’s body. The clashes between protestors and policemen continued for some dime and at least 18 persons including SHO and nine policemen were injured.

Hilal Ahmed Dar, 21 was the eldest son of his parents and was a lone bread earner of the family. He worked as a security guard at the Khyber Cement Agency.

Meanwhile, authorities have deployed in strength police and CRPF men to prevent protestors from entering the Bandipora town.

Sources said a forensic team from Srinagar was rushed to Bandipora to conduct ballistic tests on the bullets that killed Dar.

They said the outcome of the tests will determine if a murder case is to be registered.

An Army spokesman in Srinagar Lt Col JS Brar said troops had intelligence input about presence of three militants at Aloosa Helmatpora on Tuesday night.

“We laid an ambush in the area. At around 11:45 pm, we noticed a suspicious movement. On being challenged, the ambush party of 27 RR was fired upon. The party returned the fire after which a fire fight ensued. During search operations, a body was found along with one AK, two magazines and 44 rounds from the encounter site in the morning,” he said.

He said the deceased was later identified as Hilal Ahmed Dar of Aloosa, Bandipora.

“The body and the recovered arms and ammunition have been handed over to police,” Brar said. However, a police officer dealing with the investigation said they had no record or information which suggested that deceased was a militant. “Even he has no criminal background or any association with the militancy,” he said.

Meanwhile, authorities have ordered magisterial probe into the incident.

Several mainstream and separatist organizations have strongly condemned the killing of youth by army men.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.