A 23-year-old youth from Chattabal area of Srinagar was killed due to pellets fired by paramilitary forces at him late on Tuesday evening when he was returning home after finishing his duty of guarding an Automated Teller Machine of J&K Bank in old city. The preliminary autopsy findings revealed that the youth, identified as Reyaz Ahmed Shah, was hit with "almost a full cartridge of pellets" in his belly from a point-blank range, damaging his vital organs and resulting in his spot death.
The J&K Police have registered a case of murder against "security forces" under Section 302 vide FIR No 56/2016. With Reyaz's death, the toll has mounted to 53 in the past 26 days of widespread protests triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. As per hospital records, Reyaz's killing is third of its kind caused due to the pellets which have been announced officially as "non-lethal means of crowd control."
Family members of Shah said he was coming home late after performing his duties. "My brother was a J&K Bank ATM guard at Habba Kadal. He called us at 10.30 pm and told us that he was on way to home. We tried to call him again, but his phone was ringing but there was no response," said Shakeel Ahmed, brother of slain Reyaz. He said Reyaz's body was found outside Srinagar's SMHS hospital.
Police sources said Reyaz's body was brought to Police Control Room at around 3 am. "He had two wounds, one in abdomen and one in head. We are trying to ascertain the cause of his death," they said on Wednesday morning.
The police sources said Riyaz's body was lying on roadside next to his Scooty, wearing a Helmet. "His body was spotted by an auto driver," they said.
As the news of Reyaz's death spread, the entire Chattabal and dozens of other adjoining areas erupted with massive protests soon after pre-dawn prayers culminated.
Witnesses said that people including women and children took to streets amid pro-freedom and pro-Islam sloganeering. "He has been killed in cold-blood. There was no protest going on when he was killed. Forces have now decided to kill our youth in cold-blood," mourners at Chattabal said.
Reyaz belongs to a poor family. "Forces snatched the main breadwinner of this poor family," a group of wailing women said after seeing the coffin of Reyaz.
In the afternoon, when the autopsy of Reyaz was completed, it was learnt that he had been fired from a point-blank range in his belly. "As per the preliminary autopsy report finding, almost a full cartridge of pellets was pumped into his belly. There was a small entry whole on the left side of his belly but there was no exit wound. His vital organs had suffered immense damage due to pellets that were all over his stomach, causing his death on the spot," police sources, privy to initial findings of the Autopsy report, told Greater Kashmir.
Reyaz was laid to rest at martyrs' graveyard in Srinagar's Eidgah. Thousands of youth, women and children took to streets after police handed over the body of Reyaz to his family.
Shouting pro-freedom and pro-Islam slogans, people decided that Reyaz will be taken to the martyrs' graveyard Eidgah for burial.
As the news spread, people from dozens of adjoining areas that include Karanagar, Zampa Kadal, Qamarwari, Bemina, Cement Kadal, Safa Kadal, joined the funeral procession of Reyaz—defying curbs and restrictions in old Srinagar areas.
Witnesses said Reyaz's body was taken to martyrs' graveyard amid massive sloganeering. At Eidgah, hundreds of people were already waiting to participate in his funeral prayers. He was later laid to rest amid pro-Islam and pro-freedom slogans. Witnesses said at Chattabal, protestors tried to attack police station Bagiyas with stones and bricks. The police responded with teargas shells and dispersed the protestors. Witnesses said four youth sustained minor injuries in the clashes.
Meanwhile, at least 20 youth sustained injuries in day-long clashes in Srinagar and parts of North and Central Kashmir. At least 3500 civilians have got injured in the past 26 days of widespread protests of which 150 have sustained grave injuries in their eyes due to pellets.
A senior police official said they have registered a case of murder against "Security Forces." "Since there is a movement of various security agencies on the (SMHS) hospital road, we are retrieving the CCTV footage to ascertain the facts as to which agency is involved in the killing of Riyaz," he said.
The slain Reyaz's family, however, alleged that CRPF men killed their son in "cold-blood".
The government had put in place curbs and restrictions in various old Srinagar areas to thwart protests by youth against the civilian killings, especially the fresh killing of Chatabal youth.
Witnesses, however, said evening protests rocked Rawalpora and a procession from the area comprising of more than 400 people culminated at Sanatnagar. At Goripora Sanatnagar, women and children also participated in pro-freedom procession that was later foiled by police with massive teargas shelling.
Evening clashes and protests also rocked Batamaloo, Chattabal, Bemina, Rainawari, Sekidafar, Saraf Kadal, Bohri Kadal, Nowhatta, and many other parts of Srinagar. A torch procession was also taken out in Nowgam area after Magrhib prayers after which youth clashed with police. Clashes and protests were going on till late in the evening.
Chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led sit-in protests against the civilian killing spree in Kashmir. While Geelani joined the sit-in outside his Hyderpora residence, Mirwaiz was carrying a placard displaying "Stop State Terrorism" outside his Nigeen house.
In Lethpora village of Pampore, at least a dozen youth received pellet injuries in forces' action and one of them was hit in eye. Health Officials at SDH Pampore said four youth were treated with pellet injuries and one of them, who had received pellets in eye, has been shifted to Srinagar. Pro-freedom and anti-India slogans reverberated from masjids and at the time of filing of this report, protests were on in the area. The protests started after funeral prayers of Farooq Ahmed Kuchay son of Ghulam Nabi of Lethpora were held. Khuchey was shot dead when guards of Additional District Commissioner Ramban Babu Ram opened fire on protesters in Lethpora area on Tuesday evening. The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed and there was no movement of vehicles even during night hours. In Pampore and Awantipora areas, authorities enforced strict curfew and had deployed hundreds of forces in riot-gear on the streets. A peaceful protest rally was organized in Tral area. Hundreds of youth took out a pro-freedom rally from Trali-Bala upto Trali-Payeen.
Farooq Ahmad Kuchay, 25, of Lethpora-Awantipora—a truck driver—was supposed to get married on August 23 but fate had something else in store. Kuchay was shot dead by guards of ADC Ramban during a protest demonstration against forces' excesses in the area, on Tuesday late evening—exactly at the same place where his elder brother was killed by BSF men 23 years back. "He got engaged to a girl from Tangmarg and 20 days from now, his marriage was scheduled," said locals.
Farooq had been striving hard to support his family. "His father Ghulam Mohiudin Kuchay passed away a decade back. His mother some years back lost eyesight in one of her eyes, while one of his brothers is mentally challenged,' they said.
His elder brother is also driving a truck while one among his two sisters is married off. Meanwhile, clashes were reported from Imam Sahib Shopian in which three youth sustained pellet injuries.
Strict restrictions were in place amid shutdown in Kupwara district while clashes and protests were reported from Trehgam, Kalaroos, Nutnoosa and Kupwara. In Sopore, clashes were reported from various Arampora, Batpora and main chowk. Protestors were hurling stones and bricks at the forces. Forces fired dozens of tear smoke shells to disperse them. Clashes were reported from old town Baramulla as well. Late evening protests were also reported from various Baramulla areas.
Mild clashes were reported from Kangan and Nagbal areas. Islamic slogans and 'taranas' reverberated from various masjids throughout the day. Reports said intense clashes broke out at Nowhar Charar-e-Sharif, Surasyar Chadoora, Adina and Magam areas. However, none was injured. Witnesses said Army men were seen taking photographs of graffiti slogans which later triggered mild clashes in the area.
Complete shutdown was observed in Bhaderwah against the civilian killings in Kashmir. All shops and other business establishments remained closed for the day.
"At least 15 incidents of stone pelting were reported across the valley. These incidents were reported from Srinagar, Kulgam, Sopore, Shopian, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Budgam and Awantipora," a police spokesman said. "During these law and order situations 12 persons, –40 police and security force personnel were injured. As a precautionary measure Curfew/restrictions were put in place in some police stations of Srinagar, Anantnag town, Bongam in Shopian, Khanpora in Baramulla, Awantipora and Pampora towns. In its continuous drive against the hooligans and miscreants 349 accused persons have been arrested in the valley. Besides, 122 have been detained under prohibitory provisions of law."