Police register murder case, army says it faced intense stone-pelting from mob that tried to lynch a JCO
SHOPIAN: Two students were killed by army in Shopian’s Ganowpora village on Saturday. The slain youths were identified as Suhail Javid Lone, son of Javid Ahmad Lone of Ganowpora, a Class 12 student and Javid Ahmad Bhat, son of Abdul Rasheed Bhat, resident of Balpora village, an undergraduate student.
Residents of Ganowpora told Kashmir Reader that the army opened fire indiscriminately on civilians. “They (army) first came in the village at around 11am in two bullet-proof vehicles and started removing banners and flags in and around the local graveyard where a militant was buried on Thursday,” locals said. On Thursday, a civilian and two Hizb militants were killed in a gunfight by government forces and one among the militants belonged to Ganowpora village.
Locals said the army soldiers came again at 3pm and continued removing the flags. When people protested, army soldiers opened indiscriminate fire, resulting in the killings of the two students and injuries to several others.
“They tried to kill us all,” a group of villagers said.
Several women fainted when the body of Suhail reached his native village. Emotional scenes were witnessed at Ganowpora and Balpora villages where every single person was seen crying at the sight of the bodies of the two students.
Both the slain students had come to offer condolences to the family of Abdul Rashid whose son was killed in a gunfight with government forces at Choiegund-Adoo village in the district.
The headquarters of 12 sector Rashtriya Rifles, the army unit which covers Shopian, Pulwama and Budgam, is situated in the heart of Balpora village and one kilometer from Ganowpora village.
Chief Medical Officer Pulwama, Talat Jabeen, told Kashmir Reader that two persons were brought dead in two different hospitals of Pulwama. “One person was brought dead to district hospital Pulwama and another to primary health centre Rajpora. One more injured person was brought here who was referred to Srinagar and both the persons who succumbed had bullet injuries in the head,” she said.
In Srinagar, SKIMS Medical Superintendent Dr Syed Amin Tabish said an injured 23-year-old was admitted to the hospital with firearm injury in head. Doctors are currently operating on him and his condition would be known once the procedure is over, he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Shopian, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar, told Kashmir Reader, “An army convoy was going from 12 sector headquarters of army from Balpora (brigade headquarters) which came under stone pelting at Ganowpora village. The army opened fire in which several persons were injured among whom two succumbed and two to three persons are critical.” He added that a case under murder charges has been registered against army personnel.
The army in a statement, however, said they were “constrained to open fire in self-defence to prevent lynching of the JCO and burning of government vehicle by the mob”.
It said an army convoy was passing through Ganowpora chowk in Shopian and it came under “unprovoked and intense stone pelting by a group of 100-120 stone pelters”. “Within no time, their numbers swelled to 200-250 persons. The crowd surrounded an isolated portion of the convoy consisting of four vehicles. They caused extensive damage to these vehicles and tried to set them on fire. A junior commissioned officer accompanying the convoy got hit on the head and fell unconscious suffering serious injury. The mob tried to lynch the individual and snatch his weapon,” it said, adding, “A total of seven army men suffered injuries and extensive damage was caused to eleven vehicles. In the process two civilians succumbed to the bullet injuries.”