Polling ends on bloody note; youth killed in CRPF firing

Srinagar: Barely an hour after the poling for Srinagar-Budgam Lok Sabha seat ended Wednesday, paramilitary CRFP shot dead a youth and injured two others, including a woman, in Nawa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar, triggering massive anti-India protests across the old city. At least six more people suffered injuries in the ensuing clashes.
Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Nazir Ahmad Kaloo and Haleema were injured when the CRPF opened fire to disperse scores of anti-poll protesters, who had converged at Nawa Kadal, reports and eyewitnesses said.
The 24-year-old Bhat, a tailor, was removed by the locals to the SKIMS, Soura. However, upon arrival at the hospital, the doctors pronounced him brought dead.
“The youth had received bullet in abdomen. He had expired when brought to the hospital,” Medical Superintendent, SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan told Kashmir Reader.
Bhat, a resident of Gretbal, Nawa Kadal was the youngest among the three siblings, including two sisters. His sisters were to get married next month.
“He was very friendly. He would help people in difficult times. And most tragic thing is that his sisters were getting married soon. He was so happy about their marriage,” Mohammad Imran, a local youth, told Kashmir Reader.
When the word about Bhat’s killing spread in Nawa Kadal, hundreds of people poured on the roads and staged massive pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. Chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, the protesters clashed with the contingents of paramilitaries and police.
“Forces used numerous teargas canisters to break up the massive demonstrations. However, the youth regrouped and continued renewed assaults on the forces from the small lanes and by lanes of the locality. The clashes turned the area into a battle ground,” Mohammad Umar, an eyewitness, said.
He said the clashes also spread to the adjoining localities of Seki Dafar, Kawdara, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Kadi Kadal and other areas of the old city. At least six people were injured in the fierce ding-dong battles.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people participated in the funeral prayers of Bhat who was laid to rest at the Mazar-e-Shuhada Eidgah amidst vociferous sloganeering. Earlier, forces had burst teargas canisters near Seki Dafar to disperse the mourners carrying the body of slain youth towards the Eidgah cemetery for burial
“Many people couldn’t make it to the funeral because the police used force to stop them. Thousands of people were in procession when it was dispersed by forces,” eyewitnesses said.
Commenting on the killing of the youth, a police spokesman in a handout said: “A party of security men came under severe attack in Nawa Kadal area. The miscreants snatched the weapon of a security force personnel. In the ensuing scuffle Bashir Ahmed Bhat and Nazir Ahmed Kaloo got injured. Later, Bhat succumbed to his injuries, while Kaloo has got injured in arm and is out of danger.”
Meanwhile, curfew would remain in place Thursday in all police stations falling under the jurisdiction of downtown, Srinagar’s Deputy Commissioner Farooq Shah told Kashmir Reader.
Killing would be probed: Omar Abdullah
National Conference president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has expressed grief and sorrow “over an incident of firing in Nawa Kadal that has resulted in the loss of a life,” according to a statement.
“Expressing his solidarity with the bereaved family, Omar Abdullah has said that the circumstances leading to this tragic loss of life would be thoroughly probed,” the statement said.
The Chief Minister has “extended his heartfelt condolences with the family of the deceased and said that such incidents are a matter of personal pain and grief for him and he will ensure that the matter is probed in a thorough and transparent manner.”
Meanwhile, opposition PDP has condemned the killing of the youth in Nawa Kadal. In a statement the party president Mehbooba Mufti said killings with impunity only add to tragedies and “it is unfortunate that at the end of a comparatively peaceful day a precious life was lost to disproportionate use of force.”