Srinagar: Families of the two teenagers who were shot dead by soldiers in Budgam on Monday have dismissed the army version that they were fired upon when they breached stop-and-frisk check posts as a “cock-and-bull story.”
On Monday evening, soldiers of army’s counterinsurgency Rashtriya Rifles fired upon a Maruti car (No. JK01R-0321) at Chattergam in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, killing two persons and injuring two others.
The slain were identified as 13-year-old Burhan Yousuf alias Faisal, son of Mohammad Yusuf Bhat, of Kawajapora, Nowgam, and Meraj Ahmad Dar, 18, son of Ghulam Mohammad Dar, of Banpora, Nowgam, on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Burhan was a Class 7 student at Darul-ul-Uloom Dangerpora, and Meraj, a Class 10 student.
The army had claimed that the youths ignored signals to stop at three barriers. “Three motor vehicle check points were established along the route to nab the militants. The car in which these youth were travelling did not stop at two check points when they were flagged down. They even broke through the third barrier at Chattergam leading to the security forces opening firing on them,” the army had said.
But the relatives of the slain youths allege they were killed in cold-blood. “They were not given any chance to prove their identity,” the relatives told Kashmir Reader on Tuesday.
They said Burhan and Meraj had left their homes along with three more youths to see a Muharram procession at Chattergam, which is nearly two kilometers from their place.
“The Indian soldiers opened fire on our children without giving them time to come out of the car and prove their identity. We have come to know that the soldiers had signaled Burhan, who was driving the car, to stop. But the boys got scared and fled from the scene as they hadn’t documents of the vehicle. In the confusion, the car hit a Tipper which was coming from the opposite direction, and the army opened fire on it. Two boys died in the firing and two received injuries while the fifth one managed to escape from the spot,” said Mohammad Asif Bhat, cousin of Meraj.
“Is it justified to murder young boys in cold-blood for not stopping at a check post,” asked Jan Muzaffar, cousin of the other slain teenager Burhan, adding that the army’s statement is a “cock-and-bull story.”
The families of slain teenagers also accused police of adding insult to their injuries. “Police has registered a case into the incident but not against the army. When the army has admitted they killed our sons, why no arrests have been made? If an FIR is lodged, then according to law those army men should have been put behind the bars,” said Muzaffar.
The family of other slain youth Meraj said he had left home after completing day’s laborious work. He worked as a daily wage labour with a local contractor and simultaneously he was a student, according to his cousin Asif.
Meraj is survived by his parents and siblings including two sisters and two brothers.
While both families are in shock, their resolve to seek justice is firm. “We will ensure that the killer soldiers are jailed. How long will the Indian soldiers continue to murder Kashmiris like flies? Enough is enough,” they said.
Meanwhile, condition of the two youth who were injured in the Chattergam firing is stable, according to an army spokesman.
“The families of the injured were immediately contacted after the incident and brought to Army’s 92 Base Hospital. Presently the families are with the injured youth at the hospital. Army is also in touch with the bereaved families of other two youth and stands by the families of the deceased in this hour of grief,” the spokesman said in a statement.