Youth killed, 2 critically injured as forces open fire in Palhalan

Youth killed, 2 critically injured as forces open fire in Palhalan

According to witnesses, clashes erupted in Palhalan in the morning against a nocturnal raid by police in the area on Sunday.

A 20-year-old youth was killed and two others critically injured when government forces opened fire on protesters in north Kashmir’s Palhalan area on Monday, triggering massive protest demonstrations.

The slain youth was later identified as Farooq Ahmad Bhat son of Ghulam Muhammad of Palhalan Pattan while the injured youth were identified as Riyaz Ahmad Bhat and Asif Ahmad Sheikh. Both Riyaz and Ashiq are being treated at a Srinagar hospital for pellet injuries.

According to witnesses, clashes erupted in Palhalan in the morning against a nocturnal raid by police in the area on Sunday.

“At around 3.45 pm today, a contingent of police suddenly raided the interiors of Palhalan and fired scores of tear smoke shells. The cops later fired scores of rounds to quell the protests against the last night’s police raid,” said a group of locals. The slain youth Farooq, according to the witnesses, was a bystander sitting outside his house at the time of protests.

“As police raided the area, we saw cops from a white gypsy firing indiscriminately at the protesters. One of the bullets hit the slain youth and he fell on ground in a pool of blood,” said Amir Ahmad, a local resident.

According to locals, police Sunday raided the house of Ghulam Muhammad Bhat in search of his son Ashiq—allegedly involved in stone-pelting case. The family members said during the raid, the cops ransacked their house and harassed them.

“This morning, youth took to streets against the raid and also to mark the second anniversary of Afzal Guru’s hanging,” they said.

Police swung into action to break the protests and tried to prevent the protesters from proceeding towards the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. This, the locals said, triggered massive clashes.

“Though intermittent clashes continued till afternoon, policemen in a white gypsy suddenly raided the area from different directions. As the police party entered inside the locality, they fired in different directions leading to the killing of Farooq Ahmad Bhat and injuries to two other youth,” the locals said.

“The slain youth played a cricket match on Sunday and we were discussing the World Cup fixture. But cops who raided the locality fired indiscriminately, leading to his death,” said Parvez Ahmad.

Farooq’s killing triggered massive protests in the area which continued till late night, reports said.

POLICE VERSION

On Monday evening, in a law and order situation in village Palhalan, two persons sustained injuries in a firing incident, a police spokesman claimed.

“One injured Farooq Ahmad Bhat S/O Ghulam Ahmad R/O Bhagat Mohallah, Palahan succumbed to injuries on way to hospital. Another injured person Riyaz Ahamad Bhat of Palhalan is undergoing treatment in hospital. Police has taken cognizance into this highly regrettable and unfortunate incident. FIR has been registered into the matter,” the spokesman said. “The incident is being investigated and all concerned are being questioned to ascertain the facts.”

PDP CONDEMNS

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti strongly condemned Bhat’s killing, terming the “incident” as “inhumane and barbaric.”

In a statement, she said “such incidents are a reminder of the need to be cautious and humane in dealing with law and order problems. The security forces have to be restrained in their approach and they must deal with human life with respect and consideration for the consequences.”

She expressed solidarity with the bereaved family.

Senior party leaders Muzzafar Hussain Baig, MP, and MLA-elect, Pattan, Molvi Imran Raza Ansari also condemned the killing of Bhat.

OMAR DEMANDS PROBE

National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah expressed grief over the killing of Farooq and demanded a probe to investigate the circumstances leading to this tragic incident. “The truth should be revealed without any delay,” he said, while extending his deepest condolences to the family of Farooq Ahmed and prayed for speedy recovery of those who have sustained injuries in the incident.

“NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani and various senior leaders of the party also expressed grief over the incident and demanded a time-bound and thorough probe,” a NC spokesman said.