Srinagar: Two civilians were shot dead and two others critically wounded on Monday by army soldiers in Chattergam area of Budgam district, triggering an anti-India demonstration that was put down with force by the police.
It was learnt that at around 5pm, the soldiers of 55 Rashtriya Rifles fired at a Maruti car (JK01R-0321) at Main Chowk, Chattergam on Srinagar-Pulwama road, where they had stationed a few vehicles and were carrying out stop-and-frisk operation.
“The soldiers opened indiscriminate fire upon the car that was coming from Kuthpora. All the four occupants suffered serious injuries in the firing,” Mohammad Maqbool, a local, told Kashmir Reader over phone.
The soldiers, he said, lifted the blood-soaked youth in their vehicle and fled away from the spot. He said the firing also created panic among the mourners, who had taken out Muharram procession in a nearby village.
“Many mourners fell on the ground on hearing the gunshots. The traders also left their shops open and ran towards safer places,” he added.
All the injured were removed to army’s Badami Bagh hospital for treatment. However, two of the youth identified as Faisal Yousuf of Panchayat Mohall and Zahid Ayoub of Bonpora, Nowgam, were pronounced dead on arrival.
While Faisal is said to be a student, Zahid worked in a private firm. The condition of two more injured, identified as Meraj and Shakeel, is said to be critical.
After the killings, paramilitary forces were deployed in parts of the city as such killings often trigger protests.
However, despite a heavy deployment of the police and paramilitary troopers, scores of youth assembled on the Nowgam bypass and protested against the killings. Besides chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, the protesters threw stones at the police personnel.
“The police burst teargas canisters and fired warning shots after failing to chase away the protesting youth. The clashes are going on. The situation is very tense,” Zubair Ahmad, a local said.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, AG Mir said the police have “filed an FIR into the incident and law will take its own course”.
The army has “regretted the loss of lives” and announced a probe.
“Anyone found guilty will be severely dealt with,” an army spokesman said in a handout.
An army spokesman Col Brijesh Pandey had earlier told PTI that the slain were army personnel. “Four soldiers were injured in the incident and two of them were declared brought dead at hospital,” he had said.
The ruling National Conference (NC) has asked the Election Commission of India to either order an immediate, time-bound and transparent investigation into the incident, or allow the state government to do so, and take suitable and just action based on the findings of such an investigation.