Handwara: Two youngsters were shot dead by government forces in Handwara town on Tuesday during a protest.
The protests erupted after a soldier of 21 Rashtirya Rifles battalion was seen inside a public toilet where a school girl had entered a while ago. The toilet is near a bunker in the middle of a street in Handwara town.
The protesters accused the soldier of molesting the girl. However, a video released by the police shows the girl dismissing charges of molestation against the soldier. The girl is in the custody of the police.
Witnesses said the protesters tried to drag the soldier towards the police station nearby, but some soldiers from the bunker came onto the street and fired at the people, injuring three.
Two of the injured, Mohammad Iqbal Peer, 20, of Burhama and Nayeem Ahmad Bhat, 22, son of Gulam Qadir Bhat of Handwara town, were taken to hospital where doctors declared Iqbal ‘brought dead’. Nayeem succumbed at the hospital, said Handwara block medical officer Dr Rouf.
Iqbal had bullet injury in the head and Nayeem had been shot in the abdomen.
Dr Rouf said five other people, who had received teargas injuries, are stable after treatment. MLA Langate Engineer Rashid, who was among the protesters, said about 25 people were injured during the clashes.
A woman from Langate, Raja Begum, was hit by a stray bullet in her vegetable garden in Kargam village.
Farooq Jan, Medical superintendent of SKIMS, Soura, where Raja was brought in the evening for treatment, said, “She is almost dead”. He said another youth, who has received bullet in his chest, was also critical.
The killings triggered protests in the town. The bunker was burnt down, Indian flag was ripped off a pole and police and paramilitary troopers were pelted with stones. Several policemen were injured in stone pelting. The government forces fired hundreds of teargas canisters and empty rounds in air to chase away the protesters who had placed the bodies of the murdered youth on the road.
Both police and army issued statements “regretting the unfortunate loss of lives” and claimed the killings will be investigated and the “guilty punished”.
Nayeem was called Kohli of Handwara for his awesome batting skills. He was star cricketer of the Star Eleven club. An undergraduate student at the Government Degree College Handwara, he was also good at academics. He had been selected for an All India level coaching camp for cricket three years ago.