March 7, 2013
In the wake of a youth’s death in Baramulla after army men opened fire, authorities imposed curfew in many areas across the Valley. Curfew was imposed in Rainawari, Nowhatta, SR Gunj, Safa Kadal, Maisuma, Kralkhud and Zadibal police stations areas of Srinagar city.
Curfew was also imposed in Baramulla, Sopore, Pulwama and Kulgam towns. Police and central reserve police force (CRPF) were deployed in strength to maintain law and order.
Tahir Lateef Sofi, 24, was killed in a firing incident at Chati Padshahi Bridge in north Kashmir’s Baramulla town by the army, during protests on March 7.
Residents of the area said a group of locals started the protest gathering in Kakar Hammam area of the town after homes were ransacked and parked vehicles smashed by men in uniform, and there was firing in the air from them to quell the protest.
Thousands of people later gathered in the town and attacked the office of the district magistrate demanding action against those involved in the killing of the youth. The district magistrate ordered a magisterial enquiry into the firing incident.
Baramulla police have also registered an FIR against those security personnel responsible for the firing. State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has again reiterated his demand for the partial revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives blanket immunity to the army and the paramilitary forces deployed to fight militancy in areas declared “disturbed” under the act. The chief minister broke down in the state legislative assembly when the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) staged a walkout over the Baramulla youth’s killing.
Omar Abdhullah promised that those responsible for the killing would be brought to justice. The chief minister later dispelled rumours that he had decided to resign over the issue.
The army, meanwhile, denied that its men were involved in the killing of the Baramulla youth. An army spokesman said: “An aggressive mob of over 250 people attacked a foot patrol of the army in the town yesterday. Despite repeated warnings and caution, the mob surrounded the patrol and people from within the crowd started attacking army personnel. “The patrol was soon outnumbered, leaving some of them injured. A person out of the mob assaulted the army personnel with an iron rod creating a life threatening situation. To extricate themselves, the patrol fired, aiming in the air, which could not have resulted in any injury as the place of the incident where the person died was well away from the location of the patrol, and could have in no way been affected by the firing by the patrol in the air”. The spokesman added that there were intelligence inputs with regard to the plans by militants to entangle army personnel, particularly in Baramulla, in a protest, and to attack the army taking shield of the crowd, with a view to trigger large-scale violence. “The army has ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of the truth”, the spokesman said.