Handwara: A large number of people, most of them young, took out a candlelight rally in Handwara late Sunday evening in memory of the five civilians who were killed when the Indian army fired on crowds in Handwara last month.
Shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the participants in the rally marched from different markets of the town to the martyrs’ graveyard where they offered prayers for the departed souls. The assembly called for severe punishment to the killers of the five civilians, among whom was a middle-aged woman hit by a bullet.
Sajad Ahmad, a young man who took part in the rally, said that the gathering was meant to remind people of how government forces were killing innocent people in Kashmir with impunity.
On 12th of April last month, Iqbal Ahmad Peer, 20, son of Farooq Ahmad Peer of Kupwara, and Nayeem Ahmad Bhat, 22, son of Gulam Qadir Bhat of Bhat Mohla, were shot dead by soldiers of the army’s 21 Rashtriya Rifles after a protest erupted over the alleged molestation of a schoolgirl by an army soldier at a public toilet in Handwara main market.
A middle-aged woman, Raja Begam, wife of Abdul Jamal Mir of Langate, was hit by a bullet when she was returning from her orchards to her home. She was admitted to the SKIMS hospital but she succumbed to her injuries the next day.
Another young man, Jahangir Ahmad Wani, son of Gulam Din Wani of Drugmulla, Kupwara, was hit by a teargas shell and died at Kupwara hospital the same day.
On 15 April, Friday, the army’s 47 RR fired on a group of protesters in the Nutnusa area, three kilometres away from the main market. A Class 12 student who was living with his relatives in Nutnusa, Arif Ahmad Dar, son of Gulam Mohammad Dar of Aawora, Kupwara, died on the spot. Three other persons were injured and taken to SMHS hospital.
Soon after the killings, curfew was imposed in Handwara and Kupwara towns for the next few days.