SRINAGAR: North Kashmir township of Handwara is on the edge after two youths were killed when Indian Army troops allegedly opened fire on the protesters who were agitating against the alleged molestation of the class XI student allegedly by an army trooper on Tuesday.
Eyewitness said security forces opened indiscriminate firing on a large group of people who had assembled outside the bunker of 21 Rashtriya Rifles to protest against the alleged molestation of the girl.
Protestors later pelted stones at the bunker and tore down the flag. Security forces immediately opened fire on the protestors killing two youth — Mohammad Iqbal and Nayeem Qadir Bhat.
While Iqbal died on the spot, Nayeem succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. Iqbal was working as a salesman at a local photography shop while Nayeem was a student and a budding cricketer who was recently selected for Under 19 team by J&K Cricket Association.
“There was a protest march and people were demanding that the accused trooper should be handed over to them. Army troopers in the bunker fired on the mob killing two youth. Protesters have kept their bodies on the road demanding action against the troopers,” said Farooq Ahmad, one of the eyewitnesses at the spot.
Police said they have registered a case and launched investigation to ascertain the facts and unravel the truth.
“There was an allegation that the forces deployed there have misbehaved with a girl. Immediately a large crowd assembled and tried to ransack and set ablaze the bunker. Forces deployed there opened fire in which two youth were injured who later succumbed to their injuries,” said SJM Gillani, inspector general of police, Kashmir Zone.
Under fire, the army said they regret the incident and assured probe into the matter. “Army deeply regrets the unfortunate loss of life. Matter will be investigated and anybody found guilty will be dealt with as per law,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also assured that the soldiers involved in the incident would be handed out exemplary punishment. Mehbooba talked to the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda and raised the demands for shifting of the bunker from the area.
“The army commander informed her that they have already ordered an inquiry into the incident and tangible action will be taken once the probe is completed,” said an official spokesman.
Tension has gripped the township with hundreds of people taking to streets and pelting stones on the security forces. Forces have resorted to lathi charge and using tear smoke shells to disperse a mob.
Reports reaching here said there was a fresh firing in the area and a woman received bullet injuries in her head.
Sensing trouble, district authorities have decided to impose curfew like restrictions in the sensitive areas falling under six police stations in the Srinagar city.
Meanwhile, separatists have called for Kashmir bandh on Wednesday against the molestation and killing of two youth in the north Kashmir Township.