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Deeply distressed by killing of civilians in Shopian: Mehbooba

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PDP, NC, Cong, others demand probe in Shopian killings

 Srinagar, Mar 5: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said she is deeply distressed by the killing of civilians in “crossfire” in Shopian district here even as her own party MLA from the area and other mainstream parties demanded a judicial probe in these killings.

Six people, including two militants, were killed in a firing incident last night in south Kashmir’s Shopian district after the militants fired upon the Army’s  mobile vehicle check post (MVCP).

“Deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire in Shopian. My heartfelt condolences to the deceased’s families,” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, her own party’s MLA from the area, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat today demanded a “judicial probe” into the firing incident, saying the culprits should be booked and brought to justice.

The Shopian MLA today took to the official PDP Twitter handle and said, “My solidarity and my sincere condolences go out to the bereaved families. I demand that a judicial enquiry be ordered to look into the circumstances under which such killings have taken place and the culprits of this heinous crime are booked and brought to justice swiftly”.

The PDP leader said no circumstances can justify the civilian killings.

“When your heart bleeds and you are emotionally amputated, no condemnation is enough. I have no words to condemn these killings at Shopian.

“No circumstances can justify these civilian killings which can further the tendency to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere,” Bhat said in the tweet.

Reacting to the killings in Shopian, National Conference working president Omar Abdullah expressed grief over the “continued bloodbath in Kashmir” and said the “rapidly deteriorating situation” in the Valley was a matter of grave concern and called for serious introspection.

“The Shopian incident is yet another stark reminder of the grave and rapidly deteriorating situation in the valley and varying accounts from the Chief Minister and the security forces on the incident are unfortunate and further perpetuate the sense of disenchantment, distrust and alienation,” the NC working president said.

He said the state government should make public the details of the incident and also the circumstances leading up to it.

“The Chief Minister has termed the deceased as civilians and it is hence incumbent upon her to take stringent, legal action based on the information she has as the Home Minister of the State. As the Head of the Unified Command, her word has to be the final word and has to be followed by visible, concrete action,” Omar Abdullah said in the statement issued from party headquarters on Monday.

In a separate statement, NC demanded a probe into the firing incident and said the killings cannot be justified by labelling the deceased as over-ground workers of militant groups (OGWs).

While the Army claimed that the slain youths were militants and their associates, the police on the other hand didn’t make any such claims and said they are still investigating the incident.

“We are deeply shocked and grieved at the continued and unabated bloodshed in Kashmir. The Shopian killings cannot be justified with an arbitrary, unproven pronouncement of the youth being OGWs,” a spokesperson of the NC said.

He said the circumstances leading to killings in last night’s shootout in Shopian should be probed and the report be made public.

“The circumstances and details should be probed and made public by the state government,” he added.

The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) also demanded a probe into the firing incident.

In a statement, the JKPCC described the killings as highly painful and said the people were not satisfied with the Army’s version.

Condemning the incident, the party said the people of Shopian believed that the four people were innocent and they were killed in the garb of an encounter.

The party spokesperson said the killing of innocents could not be justified and added that there had to be a probe into the incident to ascertain the truth.

The spokesperson said doubts in the minds of people needed to be cleared and the government was responsible for the bloodshed.

The spokesperson alleged that the killings were a fallout of “misrule and misgovernance by the PDP-BJP which was also responsible for deteriorating situation in the state.”

Describing the killing of civilians in south Kashmir as “highly deplorable”, the CPI(M) today demanded “partial withdrawal” of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the Valley.

“Whatever is the excuse given by the forces in the latest incident killing unarmed and uninvolved civilians, it has no justification. Losing precious human lives is most unfortunate,” senior CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said in a statement here.

He said those who are at the helm of affairs have to answer, how long the blood of civilians will continue to flow in Kashmir?

“The killing of civilians is highly deplorable. Unless deterrent action is taken against those involved in such incidents, these are going to be repeated and this is an unfortunate phenomenon,” he said.

Questioning government’s probes into such incidents, the MLA from Kulgam said, “till now, there has been no outcome of the probes and enquiries ordered by the government in such incidents. The government is habitual of shedding crocodile tears after every killing incident and quickly orders a probe. But there is no positive change on the ground.”

Tarigami appealed the democratic forces in the rest of the country to pressurise the government so that the government forces are made accountable for such incidents and adopt maximum restraint while dealing with the militants in Kashmir.

“The well-meaning and humane elements of our society across the country should raise their voice against the civilian killings whatever the excuse put forward by the erring elements. Since the parliament is in session, the representatives of all the democratic formations should unitedly take up this issue,” he said.

Expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, Tarigami called for “an immediate end to impunity granted to the security forces, by withdrawing the AFSPA at least from the areas which are relatively peaceful”.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) and MLA, Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, also condemned the killing of civilians.

He said that such incidents create an atmosphere of terror and uncertainty. “Due to fear, the tourists are also reluctant to come to the Valley. If the killing spree in Kashmir is not stopped forthwith, the upcoming tourism season will get adversely affected,” he said.

Yaseen, the MLA from Khansahib, blamed Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, of “total failure to rein in black sheep among the armed forces operating in the state”.

“Had guilty personnel involved in earlier incidents of civilian killings been punished as per law, the situation would not been worsened so much,” Yaseen said.

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