2 protesters killed in Army firing

An Army vehicle damaged by mob in stone pelting at Shopian on Saturday. —Excelsior/Younis Khaliq
An Army vehicle damaged by mob in stone pelting at Shopian on Saturday. —Excelsior/Younis Khaliq

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Jan 27: Two civilians were killed and one injured today when Army fired on a group of violent protestors in Shopian district of South Kashmir.
The protestors pelted stones on an Army force convoy passing through Ganovpora village in Shopian district. Army fired few rounds to chase away the protestors in which several persons were injured.
Two of the injured persons, identified as Javaid Ahmad Bhat and Suhail Javid Lone, succumbed to injuries. Another youth was rushed to a hospital in Srinagar in a critical condition for specialised treatment.
In the aftermath of killing of two civilians, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti this evening spoke to Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and expressed anguish over the loss of lives in the incident.
The Chief Minister said every civilian killing, notwithstanding how erroneously made, impairs the political process in the State which has been put on track after hard work by all political parties.
“The Defence Minister assured the Chief Minister that she would seek a detailed report in this regard and would impress upon the field formations that mechanisms put in place are strictly adhered to so that such incidents do not recur in future”, an official statement said.
Earlier, the Chief Minister directed the district administration to conduct a probe into the incident and come up with findings at the earliest. She has conveyed her sympathies with the bereaved families.
A police spokesman said that a convoy of 10 Gadwal of Army on its way from 12 Sector headquarters Balpora Shopian to Maspora, came under heavy stone pelting at village Ganowpora.
“Pertinently, Ganowpora is the village of militant Firdous Ahmad, who was recently killed in an encounter on January 24, 2018 at Cheegund, Shopian”, said the spokesman.
“Due to this stone pelting reportedly some Army personnel were injured and they retaliated by firing, in which three  individuals – Javiad Ahmad Bhat, 20,  son of  Abdul Rashid Bhat resident of  Balpora Shopian, Rayees Ahmad Ganaie , 24, son of  Mohd Yousuf resident of Nadpora Shopian and Suhail Javaid son of  Javaid Ahmad Lone resident of Ganowpora sustained bullet injuries. Javaid Ahmad and Suhail Javaid succumbed to the injuries at District Hospital Pulwama and P.H. Rajpora respectively. Rayees Ahmad Ganaie has been referred to SKIMS Soura where he is being operated upon”, the spokesman said.
Police have registered a case (FIR No. 26/2018 under relevant Sections of law stands registered in Police Station Shopian) and investigation has been set into motion.
A Defence spokesman said here that an Army  administrative convoy was passing through Ganowpora Chowk in Shopian when it came under unprovoked and intense stone pelting by a group of 100-120 stone pelters. “Within no time, their numbers swelled to 200-250 persons. The crowd surrounded an isolated portion of the convoy consisting of four vehicles. They caused extensive damage to these vehicles and tried to set them on fire. A Junior Commissioned Officer accompanying the convoy got hit on the head and fell unconscious suffering serious injury”,  he said.
“The mob tried to lynch the individual and snatch his weapon. The violent crowd further closed in towards the vehicles and attempted to set them on fire. Considering the extreme gravity of the situation, the Army was constrained to open fire in self defence to prevent lynching of the JCO and burning of Government vehicle by the mob. A total of seven Army men suffered injuries and extensive damage was caused to 11 vehicles. In the process, two civilians succumbed to the bullet injuries”, the spokesman added.
According to District Magistrate Srinagar, Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, restrictions under Section 144 CrPC will remain imposed within the territorial jurisdictions of Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Safakadal and MR Gunj police stations of the district on Sunday.
“There will also be partial restrictions within the territorial jurisdictions of Maisuma and Kralkhud police stations of the district. The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident”, he said.
In the wake of Shopian killings, authorities this evening decided to reduce mobile internet speed in entire Kashmir valley as a precautionary measure.
Police have sent a communication to the cellular companies wherein it has directed them to reduce mobile internet (4G/3G) into 2G speed in all districts of Kashmir valley with immediate effect.
As per the directions, the companies have been asked not to keep speed more than 128 kbps.
The Railways have also suspended train services between Banihal and Baramulla as a precautionary measure to avoid damage to its property.
The separatist Hurriyat Conference has condemned the killing of two youth and called for shutdown tomorrow against the killings.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik appealed for a complete shutdown tomorrow against the killings of two youth.
In the meantime, militants fired two grenades at Police Post Warpora in Sopore area of North Kashmir this evening. Two police men were injured in the attack. Security forces immediately cordoned off the area and conducted searches.