Shopian killings: Locals stage protest, seek shifting of army camp from Puhnoo village

Srinagar: Barely two days after four youth were killed in an encounter at Puhnoo village in Sopian district, scores of people Tuesday demanded removal of an army camp in the area. The camp houses the unit of 44 RR which was involved in the shootout that left six people dead.

According to the reports, protests erupted in Puhnoo and Pinjoora villages of Shopian demanding the removal of the camp from the area.

Sources said scores of villagers assembled outside the house of slain youth, Suhail Khaleel Wagay of Pinjoora who was killed in army firing on Sunday and staged a protest and raised anti-army slogans.

The 44RR camp is situated between the two villages of Puhnoo and Pinjoora. It was established in 2016 few months before July 8, when Hizb commander Burhan wani was killed in an encounter. The camp sandwiched between two villages of Puhnoo and Pinjoora is positioned on a land owned by Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology Kashmir.

Pertinently, on Monday, Jammu and Kashmir Coordination of Civil Society (JKCCS) said that in a span of one year, 44 RR stationed in Shopian is involved in the killing of at least 9 civilians in the district.

 “The district Shopian, where 44 Rashtriya Rifles of Indian Army is camped, has been accused of various civilian killings. On 23 February 2017, 44 RR was involved in the killing of a civilian woman Jana Begum during an encounter in Chittargam in Shopian. On 24 January 2018, 44 RR killed one minor boy Shakir Ahmad Mir and one woman Saima Wani near an encounter site at Chaigund village of Shopian. Again on 27 January 2018, army personnel from 44 RR shot dead 3 civilians in Ganowpora area of Shopian. The police filed an FIR against Major Aditya of 44 RR (Garhwal Rifles). Yesterday, it was the same unit of 44 RR who have been accused of killing of 4 civilians and 2 militants allegedly in an encounter in Puhnoo area of Shopian,” a statement from JKCCS said.

Notably, family members of the slain youth who were killed on 3rd of March in Puhnoo did not seek any probe into the killing. The families rejected any such move by the government saying that they have lost in the probes conducted by government officials.

It is pertinent to mention that following the killing of three civilians in Gonowpora on 27 January 2018, government had on the very next day said an FIR has been filed against the accused Major Aditya of 44 RR.

However, the government in their status report filed before the Supreme Court on Monday said that they have not named Major Aditya in the FIR, following which the Supreme Court stayed the investigation till 24 April.

Meanwhile, the protesters in Pinjoora said that they will continue to protest on daily basis till the camp is not removed from its place.

Pertinently, Shopian town and its adjoining areas observed a shutdown for the second consecutive day today.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in Shopian while transport remained off the roads, a police official said.

Meanwhile, a shutdown was also observed in neighbouring Pulwama district and it shut to ‘mourn’ the killing of Jaish-e-Mohammad top commander Mufti Waqas who was killed in Letpora, Awantipora on Monday evening in a brief gunfight.

Reports of minor clashes were received from Memander, near DC office and near Mini Secretariat in Shopian.

The train service also remained suspended and internet remained snapped in twin districts of Shopian and Pulwama while as the mobile internet which was reduced yesterday morning has been restored to high speed elsewhere in Kashmir Valley.

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