JAMMU, Aug 5: A civilian was killed and another seriously injured when Army personnel opened firing after observing suspicious movement at village Kohli under the jurisdiction of Dharamkund police station in Ramban district early today. While Army claimed that their ambush patrol was fired upon before they retaliated, police said it was matter of investigation but confirmed that both dead and injured were civilians and had no militant connections.
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The incident occurred at 4.45 am when Army ambush patrol party at village Kohli observed movement and opened firing in which a civilian was killed and another injured seriously. Local people and police rushed to the spot and shifted the victims to hospital, where one of them was declared dead while another was referred to Ramban from where he was further shifted to the Government Medical Colleges (GMC) Jammu.
The dead civilian has been identified as Mohammad Rafiq, 28, son of Mohammad Shaffi, a resident of village Duksar, Gool and the injured as Mohammad Shakeel, 30, son of Mohammad Yusuf Sheikh R/o Dalwa, Gool.
SSP Ramban Mohan Lal told the Excelsior after visiting the spot that the civilians were changing pastured along with their cattle and had halted at the residence of their relative at village Kohli in Dharamkund area for the night. Early today, both of them were going for grazing their cattle when they were fired upon, leading to killing of one and injuries to another, he said.
Mohan Lal said the Army’s claim that they were fired upon before retaliation was part of investigations in the First Information Report (FIR) No. 38/2018 under Sections 302 and 307 RPC and 7/27/30 Arms Act, which has been registered at Dharamkund police station. However, he said, investigations by the police revealed that deceased and injured were civilians and had nothing to do with the militancy. They were just shifting to new pastures, which is a routine for the Gujjars.
An official statement issued by the Army on the incident by Defence PRO Col Devender Anand said: “on August 5, 2018, an operation was launched by Army based on specific Intelligence inputs in Kohli area of Gool tehsil in Ramban district.
“At 3.45 am, the Army patrol saw some suspicious activity. The suspected individuals were challenged by the Army as per the Standard Operating Procedure. On being challenged, the suspected individuals opened fire upon the Army patrol. On this, the Army patrol retaliated the firing on suspects effectively. Further details are being ascertained’’.
The SSP Ramban said a Special Investigating Team (SIT) headed by Additional SP Ramban, Sanjay Parihar has been constituted to investigate the case. The SIT will have four more members. They included Asgar Ali Malik, DySP Headquarter Ramban, Sajad Sarwer, SDPO Banihal, Inspector Ajeet Singh, SHO Dharamkund and SI Deepak Katoch, Incharge PP Sangaldan.
At the same time, Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Showkat Aiyaz Bhat told the Excelsior that he has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Aiyaz, who also visited the spot, said Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia payment has been given to next of kin of deceased Mohammad Rafiq while injured was given Rs 20,000 for treatment. Besides, authorities have been asked to ensure that injured gets good medical treatment in the Government Medical College, Jammu,
In the morning, people held massive protests at Kohli and Sangaldan against the killing of Mohammad Rafiq and injuries to another civilian demanding action against those responsible for the firing, registration of FIR against them, adequate compensation of the family of victim etc.
Police and civil administration persuaded the protesters by assuring them that the FIR has already been registered and compensation paid to family of the dead civilian. The people lifted their protests and buried the body of Rafiq at village Duksar.