ANANTNAG: Two persons were injured, one of them critically, after the army opened fire on a group of people who were allegedly throwing stones at the government forces during a search operation in Aishmuqam, Anantnag.
The injured youth were identified as Amir Ahmad Shiekh, class 9 student, son of Abdul Rashid Shiekh and Javed Ahmad Wani son of Mohammad Iqbal Wani, both residents of Aishmuqam.
Both were immediately removed to district hospital Anantnag where from doctors referred them to Srinagar for specialised treatment in view of the severity of their injuries.
“Amir had a grave injury in the back side of his neck and was referred to the SKIMS while Javed who had injury in the left arm was referred to Bone and Joint hospital Srinagar,” medical superintendent Anantnag district hospital Dr Abdul Majid Mirab told Kashmir Reader.
A doctor at the SKIMS who attended to Amir said that he has suffered firearm injuries that have fractured his scapula and damaged his lungs.
At SKIMS, Abdul Rashid Sheikh was asking passerby to pray for his son, who was being operated upon.
As soon as the people came out to protest against the harassment by army, the soldiers fired at them. The firing was so sudden that we thought a gunfight has started. I fell on the road
—Javed Ahmad at B&J Hospital
“Please pray for my Amir. I am a poor man. My son was on way to his school when army fired upon people. Please pray for him,” said Rashid, an employee with Pahalgam Municipal committee.
Local residents said that there had been a dispute over the formation of the new local Masjid Committee between two groups of people.
“In the morning, however, army searched some houses and ransacked household goods of several families in Magray Mohalla. They targeted families selectively. In the meanwhile the group favouring formation of a new Masjid committee suspected the rival group had called the army. They started assembling near Jamia Masjid,” said Maqbool, a local resident who requested his first name only should be mentioned.
“The soldiers while returning from the search operation fired at the people who had gathered near the Jamia Masjid,” he said.
However, army said the soldiers only fired warning shots in self defence after the “mob attacked them with stones”.
“We had an input about the presence of militants in the area. On the basis of information our men laid a cordon and conducted searches of some houses. As the search was on, some persons including women started assembling outside forcing our men to leave the area. On return the mob pelted stones at our men,” said Lt Colonel R D Sharma, an officer posted with 3 Rashtriya Rifles at Aishmuqam.
He said that at least 15 soldiers were injured after being pelted with stones by the people.
“After coming under the heavy stone pelting our men only fired in air in self defence. They did not fire directly. How the youth were injured is the matter of investigation,” the army officer told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile police has registered FIR into the incident and started investigations.
“Since different versions are coming in but even then we have registered FIR under section 307 against the army and started investigations,” a police official said.
Anantnag deputy commissioner Muneer-ul-Islam told reporters that a committee comprising Anantnag senior superintendent of police and additional deputy commissioner has been constituted to probe the incident.
“Some locals allege army fired without any provocation while some say stone pelting took place. The committee will thoroughly investigate the matter and will also investigate whether army has followed the standard operating procedure,” Muneer said.