Srinagar: A teenage boy was killed and three others were injured Friday when government forces opened fire upon protesters in Naidkhai town of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, sparking massive protests and clashes in which four more people were injured, reports and eyewitnesses said.
Scores of youth assembled at Hajin Chowk after the Friday prayers and staged demonstrations against the alleged police highhandedness last week. Chanting pro-azadi and anti-India slogans, the protesters also pelted stones at the post of Indian Reserve Police’s 8th battalion.
“The police and IRP personnel used batons and fired teargas canisters to disperse the protester. However, the youth regrouped and continued with their protests. The intermittent clashes continued till ‘asar’ prayers,” Mohammad Ashraf, an eyewitness, told Kashmir Reader.
Shot in the chest
After failing to disperse the youth with batons and teargas canisters, a speedy police van tried to chase away the youth. “However, the vehicle developed some snag on reaching Higher Secondary School. The cops fired scores of warning shots to disperse the youth. However, the defiant youth refused to budge. The situation took an ugly turn when policemen opened random fire upon the youth injuring four of them,” Ashraf added.
The injured youth identified as 18-year-old Farhat Ahmad Dar, son of Ghulam Rasool Dar, of Shah Gund, Hajin, and Zubair Ahmad, Mohammad Sultan and Bilal Ahmed Rather were removed by the locals to hospital. However, Farhat succumbed to his injuries on way to the Public Health Centre (PHC) Pattan. The slain boy is said to be a Class 12 student.
“The boy was already dead when brought to the health centre by people. He had suffered bullet injury in chest,” Dr Zafar Ahmed of the PHC, Pattan told Kashmir Reader.
The news of Farhat’s death spread like wildfire in Naidkhai and Hajin drawing hundreds of men, women and children out on the roads. Chanting slogans, the protesters staged massive protests against what they termed ‘cold blooded’ murder of the youth. The massive protests prompted the administration to push reinforcements into the area. At least four people suffered minor injuries in the clashes triggered by Farhat’s death.
Protests also erupted in Pattan and Palhallan areas when the news spread on Friday evening. Groups of youth assembled at Palhallan Chowk and engaged the forces in pitched battles. The clashes were going on when the last reports came in.
Forces fired in air: Police
A police spokesman in a handout here said: “Today in evening hours an unruly mob in Naidkhai Sumbal attacked a security personnel vehicle and tried to set it ablaze. Security personnel boarding in the vehicle fired in air to disperse the mob in which one person got injured. The injured person was identified as Farhat Ahmad Dar who unfortunately died on way to the hospital.”
“Appropriate action is being taken into the matter,” the spokesman added.
Guilty won’t be spared: DC
The civil administration of Bandipora has ordered a probe into the boy’s death in Naidkhai.
Shah Faisal, the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, told a local news agency GNS that a time-bound enqiury has been ordered and an additional magistrate has been appointed to investigate the killing.
Faisal said, “In the evening, at 6:30 pm, a mob tried to set ablaze police vehicle in retaliation police opened fire in which a youth got killed—this is what police told me.”
“I appeal people to maintain peace and calm in the region as the probe has been already ordered,” he said, adding, “Whoever is found guilty will not be spared.”
Restrictions likely today
Strict restrictions are likely to be imposed in Naidkhai town on Saturday as authorities apprehend widespread protests against the killing of Farhat Ahmad Dar.
“The decision in this regard was taken during the meeting of officials late Friday. Section 144 is already in place across the district. However, on Saturday restrictions will be imposed to restrict the movement of people,” sources told Kashmir Reader.