Baramulla: A complete shutdown was observed Wednesday in this north Kashmir township to commemorate the first death anniversary of a young scholar who was shot dead by Army last year.
Tahir Sofi, 27, son of Ghulam Rasool Sofi, of Ganai Hamam, was killed when soldiers of 46 Rashtriya Rifles fired upon a group of youth near the old town Baramulla on March 5 last year. His killing triggered anti-India demonstrations across the Valley for many days. The authorities had clamped curfew in major towns and districts of the Valley, while the police had filed a case against the RR.
Two days after the killing, government announced ex-gratia relief of Rs six lakh to the family of the victim besides a time bound magisterial probe. However, the family refused the ex-gratia terming it ‘blood money’.
The magisterial probe conducted by the then (ADM) Baramulla, Manzoor Ahmad Qadri had indicted Army for killing the youth without any justification. “Even warning shots by the troops of 46 RR could have scared away the youth. Instead, they opened fire that resulted in the loss of one innocent life. There seems to be no valid reason in the action taken by personnel of 46 RR resulting in death of Sofi and injury to (another youth) who has been rendered handicapped for life,” Qadri had said in his report.
On Wednesday, all shops, offices, business establishments, and educational institutes remained closed in the main town while the movement of transport was also affected due to the shutdown observed by the locals in Tahir’s memory.
Early morning, CRPF troopers and police had sealed off all road links connecting old town Baramulla with the rest of the district. All the five vital bridges—Cement Bridge, Azad Gunj Bridge, Khanpora Bridge, and foot bridges of SRTC and Gulnar Park—were blocked to thwart any attempt of people to take to streets and hold demonstrations.
However, despite heightened security, groups of youth appeared at Khanpora and Cement Bridge and clashed with government forces. Besides chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the youth also pelted stones.
“The forces used several teargas canisters to disperse the stone pelting youth. However, the youth regrouped and continued renewed assaults of them. The clashes continued intermittently,” Firdous Ahmad, an eyewitness, said.