Student killed in power protest
5 CISF Men Arrested; No AFSPA Protection For Accused: CM
ALTAF BABA/MUDDASIR ALI
Boniyar/Srinagar, Jan 2: A class 12 student was killed and two persons injured on Monday when Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel guarding National Hydroelectric Power Corporation projects in Kashmir opened fire on people protesting against power shortage in Boniyar area of North Kashmir's Baramulla district. Police immediately arrested five CISF personnel allegedly involved in the firing while the state Government lodged a protest with the Union Home Ministry.
Facing acute shortage of power in the areas including Kichama, Gantmula and Boniyar, Boniyar residents staged protests outside NHPC-run Uri-I power project Monday afternoon seeking regular power supply.
As the protestors marched towards the project, the CISF personnel opened fire, killing Altaf Ahmad Sood (18) son of Bashir Ahmad of Barnait, Boniyar on the spot. Parvaiz Ahmad son of Ghulam Hassan and Abdul Majid son of Wali Muhammad, both of Boniyar, were injured in the firing.
Eyewitness said Altaf was not part of the protest. “He just happened to pass by the area after coming from tuition. He was hit by a bullet in his chest,” said a resident Abdul Rashid Awan. The deceased is a close relative of IAS officer Muhammad Sharief Sood. Another eyewitness said demonstrations were peaceful and some of the senior citizens of the area were talking to senior officials in the office of Tehsildar Boniyar at the time of the incident.
“We were talking to Tehsildar Boniyar, DSP Uri and SDPO, in the office of Tehsildar Boniyar at the time of the incident. We don’t understand how come they (CISF) resorted to firing when we were holding talks,” said Fareed Ahmad, Sarpanch of the area.
“Our land was taken up for the project with the promise that we will be supplied uninterrupted power,” said Muhammad Ibrahim, a protester. Another eyewitness, while showing the note book of the killed student and the blood stains on the road, said the deceased was not part of the protest.
CHIEF MINISTER TWEETS
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted on micro-blogging website, Twitter: “Tragic beginning to the New Year. Inexcusable use of force in Uri today… Law will now follow course. No protection under AFSPA will be considered since they (CISF) weren't on counter-insurgency deployment.”
Deputy Inspector General of Police, north Kashmir range, Muneer Khan told Greater Kashmir that police has arrested five CISF personnel in connection with the incident.
“The case (FIR No. 01/2012) has been registered under section 302 RPC (murder) at police station Boniyar," he said. The arrested CISF persons are Sub-Inspector Krishan Thapa, Havaldar Dwarka Prashad, Constable Raju Ranjan, Constable Ajay Singh and Constable Muhammad Shabir.
Addressing a press conference at Jammu, Principal Secretary Home, BR Sharma, said Deputy Commissioner Baramulla has been directed to provide immediate ex-gratia to the families of deceased/injured persons.
He said all the arrested CISF personnel involved in the firing incident do not fall under the purview of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and will not get immunity under the Act.
While raising serious concern over the killing, Government said it has taken up the matter with the Union Home Ministry and lodged serious protest and demanded stern and exemplary action against the delinquent officers.
“The State Government has taken a very serious view of the incident and has asked the state police to take immediate steps to bring those responsible for the incident to book,” said an official spokesman.
He said the CISF, whose troops opened fire, are not part of the Counter Insurgency Grid operating in Jammu and Kashmir and have been hired by the NHPC exclusively for the security of their installations across the state. “They (CISF) don’t come under the operational command of either the Unified Headquarters or the state government,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the protest was against the NHPC and it was appropriate for the Corporation to have sought the assistance of the local law and order machinery rather than dealing with them on their own.
Omar Abdullah, who also holds power portfolio, sent a high-level team comprising senior Congress leader and Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani and Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda to the spot. Taj Mohi-ud-Din is also MLA of the area.
“It is a simple case of murder as the CISF personnel came out of their camp and opened fire on protesters. Two of the CISF personnel were in civvies and one was in uniform,” Taj told local news agency KNS.
Asked whether any enquiry or probe has been ordered in the incident, Taj said, “There is no need to hold enquiry into the incident as it is a simple murder.”
Taj who represents Uri constituency in the Assembly said, “We will take back the Uri project from the NHPC and the decision has already been taken by the Government.”
The MoS Home termed the incident unfortunate. “Killing can never be justified and case under Section 302 has already been registered,” he said.
Reports said late afternoon police had to open fire in air to disperse angry protestors who had gathered in Gingal and Dawara areas of Uri and were demanding action against NHPC authorities.
“There will be complete shutdown in Uri town against the incident on Tuesday. Immediately after the news broke out, shutdown was observed in Uri, Boniyar and other areas of the tehsil,” locals told KNS.
In a similar incident in late ’80s, six persons who were part of demonstrations against electricity shortage, were killed in police firing during Dr. Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference Government.
ROW OVER NHPC-CONTROLLED POWER PROJECTS
The incident has taken place when State Government and separatists are accusing NHPC of “looting” JK’s water resources and it has upped the ante over the return of two power projects-Salal and Dulhasti- from the Corporation. Under a new law- State Water Resources Act- the state is seeking from the NHPC the registration of its functional and upcoming projects in the state with the Government and payment of water usage charges for exploiting state’s hydro resources for power generation —something the Corporation has not agreed in totality and is contesting the case is state High Court.
The Government has gone to the extent of terming NHPC “East India Company.” The killing is likely to heat up the issue of what politicians here call “loot of State’s water resources by NHPC.”
Taj has been at the forefront against “the loot of the water resources by the NHPC.” In June last year, the minister said: “NHPC is behaving like East India Company in the state. It is exploiting water resources of poor states. The attitude of the company is arrogant and they are contemptuous towards law of the land.”
In fact it was Taj in 2010 when he came up with a legislation to impose water tax on NHPC which he said will add state’s revenue by Rs 850 crores. The Corporation has gone to the High Court challenging the legislation.
Separatists too have time and again raised voice against the NHPC. Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has repeatedly opposed the Corporation’s acquisition of land for constructing 330 MW-Kishanganga Power Project in Gurez Valley of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
Last year state Government constituted a Cabinet subcommittee to review the pact with the NHPC over the power projects and sought recommendations for taking them back. The committee is expected to submit its report to the Cabinet this week.
A civil society group, which is at the forefront seeking return of the projects from the NHPC, has given January 30 deadline to the state Government to take back power projects from the corporation.
POWER SHORTAGE IN KASHMIR
Last month state Power Development Department decided to extend the power curtailment schedule in the Valley evoking severe resentment from people.
Kashmir witnessed severe protests against the Government decision, seeking reversal of the schedule. However there has been no respite to consumers in this chilling winter. Both metered and un-metered areas are facing long and unscheduled power cuts.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 2 Jan 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 2 Jan 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 3 Jan 2012 00:00:00 IST
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