Aaqib Naik

Valley aghast over Kulgam killings

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Three civilians including teenager girl killed; thousands participate in funeral of slain civilians; militants offer gun-salute; killings evoke wide condemnation

Shopian: Three civilians, including a minor girl, were killed and five others injured today when Army personnel opened fire during clashes with stone-pelting protesters in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the police said.

Locals said that the army personnel opened fire on protesters who pelted them with stones in Hawoora Mishipora area of Redwani.

The injured were rushed to a nearby Primary Health Centre in Frisal, where three people, including a minor girl, were declared brought dead, they said.

The deceased have been identified as 22-years-old Shakir Ahmad Khanday, son of Mohammad Hussain Khanday; 20-years-old Irshad Ahmad, son of Abdul Majeed, and 16-years-old Andleeb Jan, daughter of Ali Mohammad.

A police spokesman, in a statement, said that an army patrol while moving through Hawoora Mishipora area today afternoon was pelted (with stones) by the miscreants.

“Consequently, army tried to disperse the miscreants and in the process five individuals sustained injuries,” he said.

The injured persons were evacuated to nearby hospital. However, later three persons succumbed to the injuries, including a girl. Two other individuals are stated to be stable.

Police has started investigation into the matter, he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people later in the day participated in the last rites of three slain civilians.

Reports said that over a dozen rounds of funeral prayers were held for the slain civilians at a school ground in Hawoora village. Thousands of people participated in the prayers, they said.

A group of militants also appeared in the funeral and offered a gun-salute to the slain.

Meanwhile, the killings evoked condemnations from the political leaders, with CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami saying such reckless killings have the potential to further deteriorate the already worsened situation in the state.

“Since the imposition of the Governor’s rule on June 20, the violence was on decline and civilian killings were also on decrease. But the latest incident is a big shock and setback to any effort to restore peace in the Valley,” Tarigami said in a statement issued here.

He said the policymakers need to understand it that nothing can be achieved by excessive use of force and it is only political dialogue which can bring peace.

“Killings will only deteriorate the situation further,” he said, adding “losing precious human lives is most unfortunate. Such brutal killings have in the past inflamed the situation and if immediately such type of incidents aren’t stopped, there is apprehension that situation in the Valley may turn ugly again.”

Expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, Tarigami also demanded an immediate end to impunity to the government forces in such cases.

Former chief minister and PFP president Mehbooba Muftiwhile expressing deep anguish over the killings said, “It is unfortunate for the state that human blood is being spilt and the need is to put an end to it.”

She has expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.

National Conference president Dr. Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah have also expressed shock and grief over the loss of civilian lives in Kulgam.

Expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, the NC leaders including those from the south Kashmir prayed for peace to the departed souls, a party press release said.

Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) chairman, Mohammad Ashraf Sehraie also condemned the killing of innocent civilians in “indiscriminate firing of occupational forces”.

Appealing the international community for their cognizance of the “appalling situations and state-sponsored terrorism”, Sehraie impressed upon “global hearers” the need to raise their voice and come to the rescue of the “subjugated people in occupied Kashmir”.

“The growing Indian aggression against unarmed and peaceful people in the state has touched the alarming line and turned this beautiful place into a battlefield,” Sehraie said.

“Under a well-thought-out plan, the Indian authorities, forces and their henchmen are carrying out genocide here,” he added.

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