SRINAGAR: The army’s bid to distance itself from the killing of a minor girl and crippling injuries to her brother in a shell explosion near a Tosmaidan village sparked a protest in central Kashmir district on Wednesday, with people demanding probe into the army’s claim.
The 9-year-old girl was killed on Monday while her 5-year-old brother lost his both legs when an unexploded shell went off while the duo was playing in a field at their native village Lassipora, which is at a distance of around 200 metre from the army’s firing range at Tosmaidan.
The army, however, on Tuesday refuted that the bombshell was a residual explosive device left unexploded during the artillery drills carried out by its soldiers at the meadow-turned-firing range.
Learning about the army’s response, the locals at Lassipora staged a protest demonstration in the area on Wednesday morning. They were joined by residents of the adjoining villages. The protesters demanded investigations into the army’s statement.
“The army has said the shell which caused the causalities did not belong to it. There shall be an investigation to find out where the shell had come from,” chairman of Tosmaidan Bachao Front (TBF) Dr Ghulam Rasool told Kashmir Reader.
TBF has been a spearheading the agitation against existence of firing range at Tosmaidan, a vast picturesque meadow which was leased out to the army in 1964 to carry out artillery training.
The police have registered an FIR in the incident under Section 302 and 307, but it hasn’t named anyone in the case.
“FIR was registered the day on which the incident occurred,” Station House Officer Khag told Kashmir Reader as he refused to give further details about the case.
While a total of around 65 people, mostly children, have died due to explosions caused by residual explosives around Tosmaidan over the years, it is said to be the first instance of police registering a case after the incident.
However, the protesters demand that the FIR be made public. “It shall be made public. Besides, the other unexploded shells in the villages shall be defused immediately,” Dr Rasool added.