SRINAGAR: After more than two months, the investigation ordered into the killing of Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, an elderly man shot dead by army in Panzgam area of Kupwara on April 28, while he was trying to restrain a group of youth from marching to an army camp, has been ignored with contempt by the army. Bhat had been killed, according to local witnesses, when the army opened fire on a group of youth who were demanding the bodies of two militants that had stormed the local army camp. Three soldiers were killed in that militant attack.
A day after the incident, police station Kralpora registered a case of murder under FIR number 25 of 2017 against army officials and constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by additional superintendent of police Kupwara, Farooq Ahmad Kaiser.
Station house officer Kralpora, Wasim Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader that they wrote a couple of letters to army officials asking them to identify those who were posted at that place where the incident happened, and to hand over the list of the same to the SIT.
“But so far they (army) haven’t replied to any of our letters. We can only proceed further when we receive some communication from them (army). Till now, we have recorded the statements of a few eyewitnesses but we need more eyewitness accounts to gather information,” Ahmad said.
As per locals who claim to have witnessed the incident, Bhat was wounded by a bullet and died on the spot when the army opened fire on people demanding the bodies of slain militants. The local eyewitnesses said that minor clashes had erupted after a few hot-tempered youths tried to march towards the local army camp where the bodies of the slain militants were kept. This march was intercepted by the army.
“The situation was not so violent that opening fire on unarmed civilians would have been justified. He (Bhat) was one among many elders who were stopping youths from marching towards the camp. But the unrestrained troops opened fire on protesters, resulting in the killings,” local witnesses told Kashmir Reader.
Three army soldiers, one of them a captain, were killed in an early morning fidayeen attack in which two militants were gunned down by the army’s Quick Reaction Team (QRT).
Additional SP, Kupwara, Farooq Ahmad Kaiser refused to reveal any details about the case and said the “matter is under investigation”.
“We were busy a little but the case would gain pace from now onwards. Till the case is completed, I won’t be able to reveal any of the details related to the case,” Kaiser said.
Defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia didn’t respond to repeated calls by this reporter. Replying to a text message, he said he would seek details from the office concerned and inform. In the several hours since, he hadn’t.