Hit by pellets, 12-year-old student found dead at Harwan
15,000 join funeral procession at Harwan; toll reaches 86; over 100 clashes in Valley on 71st day of shutdown
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Sep 17: With recovery of the pellet-riddled body of a 12-year-old boy in Srinagar, death toll in current turmoil in Kashmir valley has reached 86 on 71st consecutive day of shutdown, following Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on 8th July.
Residents of Theed, Harwan, said that body of the 12-year-old student Nasir Shafi alias Momin of their hamlet was spotted and recovered from behind some bushes outside the famous Harwan Garden, beside a major water reservoir, late on Friday night. They said that he had not reached home after some clashes between the protesters and Police in that area following the Friday afternoon prayers. They said that he was a 7th standard student of Greenlight School Ishbar, situated close to the CRPF headquarters in Kashmir. The school photo-identity card mentioned his Date of Birth as January 13, 2005.
With recovery of the less than 12-year-old student, death toll in the 71-day-long turbulence has reached 86 and there were no indications of its dying down in foreseeable future. Entire South Kashmir, besides Budgam and Srinagar districts have been the worst affected.
The residents and the family members alleged that Momin had been hit in “point blank range” by Police or CRPF and killed. His body, they alleged, had been dumped in water behind some bushes in an attempt to escape responsibility. They said that it was buried amid pro-Azadi, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans on Saturday as thousands of people from over 20 villages participated in the funeral. His father Mohammad Shafi Qazi said that the boy had gone to attend Friday afternoon prayers at Darul Uloom Kausaria at Harwan and he did not return till late. "They (Police and CRPF) had fired a full volley of pellets on his back, captured him, broken his arm and teeth, killed him in cold blood and finally thrown him in the water for wild animals", he said.
News of the 12-year-old student's death spread like a wild fire inspite of the fact that no Internet services were functional in the Valley for five days and the people had access only to print editions of a couple of dailies besides the national TV channels. Officials confirmed that 15,000 people — so far the largest congregation in the summer capital in the last 71 days of mayhem — attended the youth’s funeral prayers.
While the day’s bulletin on the situation issued by Zonal Headquarters of J&K Police did not make any mention about the death of the teenager, SP City (East) Sheikh Faisal Qayoom told STATE TIMES that the angry crowds did not let the Police take possession of the body for post mortem and other medico-legal formalities.
“We were shown photographs of the body. It has a wide pellet field on the back and none of the vital organs seems to have been hit. Most likely it could be a death by cardiac arrest but only the autopsy could determine the cause of death. We have registered a case at Police Station of Harwan and the investigation would be carried out soon”, SP East said. Another official added that Police could approach District Magistrate Srinagar to seek orders for exhumation of the body as it alone could lead to post mortem and determine cause of the death.
SP East, however, asserted that the deceased was a “known stone pelters” and, according to him, five FIRs had been registered against him in the past. He described his age as 15. Residents maintained that Police were attempting to escape their responsibility and involvement with “lies” and they all called it a “cold blooded murder”.
In the wake of resultant clashes at several places from Brain Nishat to Harwan, curfew was imposed on Srinagar outskirts. However, it could not be enforced effectively as multitudes of people occupied the streets and staged protests. Curfew also remained in force in Batmaloo and downtown Srinagar where clashes took place at the withdrawal of Police and paramilitary deployments in the evening. Curfew was also clamped down in Budgam, Kulgam, Sirigufwara and some other places where the separatists had called for local protest marches.
The shutdown, called by separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, completed 71 days post Burhan Wani’s death on July 8. Reports said that parallel to a dozen-odd peaceful demonstrations, over 71 violent clashes took place between the protesters and Police/ paramilitary forces across Kashmir valley on Saturday. Officials refused to share statistics but well informed sources said that more than 50 protesters and over a dozen Police and CRPF personnel sustained injuries in today’s clashes.
Official reports said that one each person sustained bullet injuries in Wusan ganderbal, Hajipora Shopian and Nowgam in Srinagar. Saturday’s worst clashes were reported from Ompora Budgam, Nowgam Srinagar, Hajipora Harmain and Chakpora Shopian, Lazbal Anantnag, Padgampora Pulwama, Mahend Bijbehara, Wusan Ganderbal and downtown Srinagar.
Reports of a pro-Pakistan demonstration poured in even from the garrison township of Chowkibal in Kupwara district. According to a report from Anantnag, a group of youths dragged passengers out of a Tata Sumo and caused to it extensive damage at Pazalpora, Bijbehara, on Srinagar-Jammu highway. Such reports of the youths enforcing shutdown do routinely pour in daily from different areas across the Valley.
A Police bulletin claimed that except for five incidents of stone pelting from Wussan in Ganderbal, Mehend in Anantnag, New Theed, Nishat in Srinagar and Padgampora in Awantipora, situation remained under control across the valley till evening.
“Although restrictions under section 144/CrPC remained in force in the valley, curfew was imposed in some parts of Srinagar, Budgam and Kulgam towns only, in view of the challo calls given by some separatists. To clear the road, deployment used some force in which a miscreant got injured”, it said.
“In its continuous drive against miscreants and instigators, 58 such individuals found involved in the offences of damaging civilian vehicles, shops/houses and placing obstructions on roads/lanes have been arrested during last 24 hours. At Mehend Anantnag, about 200 miscreants pelted stones on police and security forces deployment due to which SDPO Bijbehra received grievous injuries. At Wussan, Ganderbal, a group of miscreants assembled on road and pelted stones on ITPB deployment due to which an ASI of ITBP was injured”, the Police bulletin said.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]