Slain youth’s uncle, a police ASI, was with his nephew in the car, says CRPF telling a lie
Srinagar: A 25-year-old civilian was shot dead by paramilitary CRPF on Wednesday morning at Kawoosa, Narbal, in Budgam district. The slain civilian was ferrying his uncle, a police assistant sub-inspector (ASI), to the Police Control Room in Srinagar when he was killed on the way near a checkpost (naka).
The slain youth, identified as Peer Mehrajuddin, son of Ghulam Nabi, resident of Makhama village in Beerwah area of Budgam district, worked at a local Khidmat centre. He was the second-youngest among seven siblings. One of his brothers also works in the police, according to his family.
Ghulam Hassan Shah, Mehraj’s uncle who was with him when he was killed, said his nephew was killed in cold blood for no reason at all.
“I was getting late for office, which is at PCR (Police Control Room) Srinagar. I am posted there as ASI. I told Mehraj to drop me there. As we reached Kawoosa, a police hawaldar stopped me. I told him my identity. He allowed us to leave. At the same time, he gave some signal to a CRPF man who was standing some distance away. I don’t know what the signal was meant for, but the CRPF man fired 5-7 bullets at our car. The bullets hit Mehraj. I was miraculously saved. It was a doctor passing by who lifted the body and took it to SMHS Hospital in Srinagar,” Shah told Kashmir Reader.
The CRPF spokesperson in a statement said that some bullets were fired as “warning shots” when the driver jumped two checkposts and drove the car onto the wrong side of the road, at a time when a convoy of the army was passing through that side of the road. This occurred at about 10:20am, the CRPF spokesperson said.
“Fearing sabotage, a CRPF jawan manning the checkpoint fired warning shots. The car was driving in the wrong direction (according to the division of the road) and that was even more alarming. When the car didn’t stop despite warning shots, the jawan fired at the car and the driver was hit on his left shoulder,” the CRPF spokesperson said.
Dr Nazir Chowdhary, Medical Superintendent of SMHS Hospital, said that Mehraj had bullet wound in his chest. “He had wound in the chest, but more details can be verified from the post-mortem report. We did not examine the body in detail because the person was brought dead,” Dr Chowdhary said.
Mehraj’s uncle said the CRPF was lying. “The story propounded by the CRPF is a lie.We did not breach any naka (checkpoint). On the road we were on, the army convoy had already concluded. There were some cars, autos ahead of us. I have been told that some mistake has happened, but I don’t know why there are different statements coming from the police and CRPF,” Shah said.
When Kashmir Reader asked Srinagar-based CRPF spokesperson Pankaj Singh if CRPF soldiers had been instructed to shoot at anyone who defies a checkpost, he said that since the Pulwama incident, the standard operating procedures have changed.
“There was no sense in coming from the wrong side, especially when there is a naka (checkpost) ahead. This is never done,” Singh told Kashmir Reader.
Singh said the incident was unfortunate. “Dukh to hoga hi (there will be grief) but there was no point coming from the wrong side. Ghar waale to kahenge kuch na kuch (the family is bound to say something in his defence).”
A case has been registered for investigation into the matter, police said in a statement. When asked about the police announcing an investigation, Singh said, “There will of course be an FIR and inquiry. Charges of culpable homicide are lodged whenever such an incident happens.”
According to an eyewitness, clashes between government forces and civilians erupted in Auduna and Kawoosa areas of Budgam district soon after the killing. The crowd began throwing stones on government forces, which responded with a baton-charge and teargas shelling. Additional forces were deployed in sensitive areas of the district as a preventive measure.
Mobile internet was suspended in entire Budgam district soon after the killing.
A police spokesperson said that at a joint checkpost established at Khalisa, Kawoosa, a Wagon-R vehicle (JK02AK-6702) was signaled to stop. “However, the said vehicle ignored the sign to stop and fled away from two naka points in suspicious manner,” the police spokesperson said.
He said the forces’ personnel opened fire at the vehicle to thwart the driver’s attempt to flee.
“The driver of the vehicle was injured in the incident and has been identified as Mehrajuddin Peer, son of Ghulam Nabi Peer, resident of Makhama, Beerwah Budgam. The injured was shifted to hospital for medical treatment, however, he succumbed to his injuries. Police has registered a case and started investigation in to the matter,” the police spokesperson said in a statement.
Ghulam Nabi, father of Mehraj, told news agency KNS, “The claims made by CRPF regarding killing of my son are absolutely unfounded and deceitful. He was murdered in cold blood.”