Locals say that army soldiers were vandalising, beating up people when some youths began hurling stones
Kulgam: A girl who studied in Class 7, a boy who was preparing to re-appear in Class 12 exams, and a young man who worked as a labourer were killed after army soldiers opened fire on civilians in Havoora village in Kulgam district on Saturday.
Two other youths, one of them the younger brother of the slain labourer, were injured in the firing and are battling for life at a Srinagar hospital.
The names of the slain are: 13-year-old Andleeb Jan, daughter of Ali Muhammad; 22-year-old Irshad Ahmad Lone, son of Abdul Majeed; and 19-year-old Shakir Ahmad Khanday, son of Muhammad Hussain Khanday, all residents of Havoora village in Qaimoh area of Kulgam.
Irshad worked as a labourer. His brother, Zahid, is one of the two others who were hit by army bullets. The second has been identified as Yasir Ahmad Dar.
Residents of Havoora village told Kashmir Reader that the army soldiers had apparently come with an intention to carry out a “massacre”.
“The army soldiers entered Havoora and Redwini villages on patrol but soon went berserk. They smashed vehicles, windowpanes of houses, and started beating people including women and the elderly,” the residents alleged.
They said that word about the army’s “highhandedness” spread quickly and soon some people gathered, raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
“During the protests, some of the youths hurled stones at the army. The army men responded with bullets,” eyewitnesses said.
“It was mayhem,” they said, as everyone ran for cover.
The army firing left five persons wounded. They were carried by people on shoulders, then on motorbikes, to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in nearby Frisal village. By the time they reached there, three of them had died.
“We declared three persons, including that little girl, dead on arrival,” a doctor at the PHC said.
The other two injured were soon rushed to Anantnag district hospital, from where they were sent to Srinagar for specialised treatment.
As the bodies were brought back to Havoora village, thousands had already gathered and thousands more were pouring in.
A joint funeral prayer was held for the three slain. To accommodate the rising number of people, multiple rounds of funeral prayers were held.
During the funeral prayers, sources told Kashmir Reader, two militants appeared and offered a gun salute to the slain civilians.
“The militants, four in number, came to the village again later, and offered a gun salute at the graves of the three slain,” sources said.
Following the killings, the authorities snapped mobile internet services across Anantnag and Kulgam districts.
Police and army versions:
A police spokesperson said that the army was pelted with stones by some “miscreants” and “consequently, army tried to disperse the miscreants and in the process five individuals sustained injuries.”
“The injured were evacuated to a nearby hospital but three of them succumbed. The other two are stated to be stable,” the spokesperson said.
He said that police have started investigation in this matter.
Army spokesperson Rajesh Kalia said that the army had exercised maximum restraint while tackling a “menacing crowd of 400-500 persons.”
“An area domination party came under heavy stone-pelting. The army men kept cautioning them. But at one point, petrol bombs were thrown at the army men while some terrorists also fired at the column,” Kalia said.
He said that the army resorted to “controlled firing”, which resulted in “unfortunate loss of human lives.”
“The matter is being investigated,” Kalia said.