Forces kill civilian in Khudwani

Forces kill civilian in Khudwani

Police claims he was hit by stray bullet; Family, locals say ‘it’s a target killing’; People hit streets in protest; Govt orders magisterial inquiry

Massive protests rocked Khudwani area of south Kashmir’s Kaimoh tehsil after government forces killed a local youth on Monday.

The slain civilian was identified as Asif Rashid Tantray (24) son of Abdur Rashid of Redwani Bala village.

Locals as well as the family of Asif alleged he was killed in cold-blood, but police claimed a “stray bullet” hit him during an encounter between militants and government forces in the village.

Asif was working as a salesman in Samsung Service Center at Lal Chowk area in Islamabad (Anantnag) town and was the sole bread earner for the family consisting of his ailing parents and three sisters.

“Asif was shot dead by government forces at 7 am near his house when he ventured out to call his mother who had gone to a neighbor’s place,” his relatives said. “He was shot from a point blank range.”

Asif received a bullet in his throat and was rushed to Primary Health Centre at Frisal where doctors declared him as bought dead. 

“Few youth were pelting stones on government forces who had laid cordon around the encounter site (at Redwani Bala village). As they spotted Asif, they directly shot at him, resulting in his spot death,” said Muhamad Amin Tantray, uncle of the slain youth. 

The family alleged it was a target killing. “Asif was picked up by Special Task Force cops three years back and was illegally detained for about a month on charges of having militant links,” they said. Local residents backed the family version, saying “it was a case of target killing.”

“He was harassed by STF several times and might have been targeted for being close friend of militant Javed Ahmad who was killed in the encounter today,” said a group of locals, who wished not to be identified for fear of police reprisals.

They said Javed and Asif were batch-mates in a local school besides being neighbors.

Locals also contested the police version that Asif was hit by a stray bullet. “Asif’s house is located at a distance from the house where the militants were holed up,” they said.

They said no post mortem of the deceased was conducted.

“We are investigating the matter and trying to ascertain how the civilian was killed. It seems he was hit by a stray bullet,” SP Kulgam, Mumtaz Ahmad, told Greater Kashmir. “He was about 400 meters away from the encounter site. If a bullet hits a person, it causes a big wound. His wound on throat was very small and it seems he was hit by a stray bullet,” the SP claimed.

Meanwhile, the government ordered magisterial inquiry into the incident. “We have ordered a magisterial inquiry to ascertain the facts and circumstances which led to the civilian causality and loss of property,” Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, Ravinder Kumar said.

He said Additional District Magistrate (Additional Deputy Commissioner) Kulgam, Muhammad Ahsan Mir, has been appointed as the inquiry officer.

“The ADC has been directed to furnish his probe report within a month,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, as the word about the killing spread in the area, people in large numbers hit the streets and staged massive protest demonstrations.

They also clashed with police and CRPF men. “Youth hurled stones and bricks on forces who retaliated with intense tear-gas shelling and aerial firing,” eyewitnesses said. They said several people including cops and paramilitary forces sustained injuries in the day-long clashes. A complete shutdown was also observed in Kaimoh, Yaripora as well as Kulgam township.

Shops, business establishments and schools remained closed while skeletal transport plied on roads.

Thousands participated in the funeral procession of the slain youth amid pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. Meanwhile, several shopkeepers in Redwani area alleged that SOG and Army men “looted” their shops.

“The government forces broke into our shops and ransacked goods,” they alleged.

They said the armed forces also ran away with essential items worth lakhs of rupees.

“The government forces took away medicines from my shop and also broke a chair,” said Manzoor Ahmad Dar, a local chemist.

Another shopkeeper, Muhammad Ashraf Bhat—who sells readymade garments—said: “They (SOG and Army men) took away all clothing from my shop.”