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Monday, November 9, 2015

Kashmir shuts over youth’s death in CRPF action

Separatist leaders under house arrest; CRPF claims it didn’t fire a bullet

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 8: With all the prominent separatist leaders under house arrest and undeclared curfew being enforced in downtown Srinagar, Kashmir valley on Sunday observed shutdown to register protest against the death of a 21-year-old civilian in the CRPF action in Zainakoot, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally here on Friday.

Both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF had called for Kashmir bandh in protest of what they called “cold blooded killing of an innocent young civilian in CRPF firing”. Gauhar Nazir Dar of Mustafaabad Zainakoot had died when residents of the village clashed with CRPF at Zainakoot, in outskirts of Srinagar, on Friday evening. He was an engineering student with SSM Engineering College, Parihaspora Pattan.

Almost all the shops, business establishments and passenger services remained closed for the day all over the Valley. The summer capital reeled under undeclared curfew in jurisdiction of seven Police Stations. Unruly groups defied restrictions and engaged Police and CRPF in intermittent clashes at several places in downtown Srinagar.

Officials said that the violent groups also clashed with Police and CRPF at Shalteng, Lawaypora and Zainakoot even as the funeral rites of the deceased had been conducted late on Friday night. Reports of ding dong clashes also poured in from Bandipora where a reporter and several demonstrators sustained injuries in the clashes.

All the key separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Maulvi Abbas Ansari remained under house arrest on the third consecutive day.

Gauhar Dar’s family members alleged that the young student died due a gunshot wound in his head. They disputed Police spokesman’s statement that Dar had been hit by a tear-smoke canister.

CRPF spokesman, meanwhile, issued a detailed statement, claiming that the youth died either after being hit by a teargas canister or by a stone thrown by the mob.

“First of all, 44 Bn CRPF was not deployed in that area and otherwise also don’t perform duties there, as their companies are deployed elsewhere. It is the unit headquarters of 44 Bn., which is housed at HMT complex in Zainakote”, the CRPF spokesman said.

“On 7th November there were no restrictions in that area and no troops of 44 Bn were deployed in that area except at the gate of unit hqs. There was continuous stone pelting on camp of 44 Bn CRPF since morning and CRPF maintained highest restraint and even didn’t use tear smoke.

“But in the evening, intensity of stone pelting increased. At about 4.30 pm there was severe stone pelting on camp in which 3 men of 44 Bn got injured. Youths also threw petrol bomb targeting the camp. Still CRPF was dealing with it tactfully and no force was used.

“But the crowd increased and became more violent. Some youths even displaced the concertina coils placed at boundary of the camp for security purpose and also demolished part of the boundary wall. In the meantime police also reached the spot.

“That unruly mob even tried to barge in to the camp. Sensing the breach in camp security, CRPF and police jointly tried to disperse them by using mild force. But when stone pelting continued from two sides, then that party used some tear smoke to disperse the mob.

“CRPF didn’t fire even a single live bullet, even in the air, as reported in some papers/media. As par the Standard Operating Procedure, CRPF used only minimum force and fired only 19 shells of tear smoke.

“CRPF strictly follow the drill to deal with such law and order problems, even though at times protests become highly violent. At Zainakote also, CRPF used only minimum force in the form of tear smoke only. However we also regret the loss of life of youth.

“We are also not sure that the youth got such grievous injury by hit of the shell, he might got hit by the stone only. However, only experts can tell this, after examining the place, direction and gravity of injury.

“However we have issued directions to all CRPF formations to be more careful while firing shells or rubber bullets. A magisterial inquiry has also been ordered so if anybody from CRPF is found to be at fault, then strict disciplinary action will be taken”, the CRPF spokesman said.


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