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Anantnag man killed in firing incident near CRPF camp in Shopian

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Family says, it’s cold blooded murder; political parties condemn, demand probe

Srinagar: A 20-yers-old civilian from south Kashmir’s Anantnag district was on Sunday morning killed near a CRPF camp in Babapora area in Shopian. Police said he was killed in “cross firing” between security forces and militants.

The incident evoked strong reactions from mainstream political parties in the Valley, which demanded a probe into it.

The killed civilian was identified as Shahid Ahmad Rather, a resident of the Arwani area in Anantnag district. A daily-wage labourer, Shahid was reportedly hired by a Shopian farmer to help with harvesting the apple crop.

“Around 1030 hrs, unidentified terrorists attacked a naka party of 178 Bn CRPF at Babapora, Shopian,” police said, adding that the CRPF retaliated the fire and during “cross-firing” one person was killed.

Further details are being ascertained, police added.

However, Zubair Ahmad Rather, the victim’s younger brother, told a news agency that the victim was returning home on Sunday morning along with two friends when the incident happened. “He was walking few metres ahead of them when the CRPF troopers fired at him.”

“It is a targeted killing,” Zubair alleged. “They shot him in cold blood. There was no cross firing in the area. If it has happened with us, it can happen to anyone. They are killing innocent people and branding them as militants. We want justice.”

A photo from the scene of the shooting, which went viral on social media, shows Shahid’s head against the tyre of a mini-truck. His legs are stretched and his hands are inside a ‘pheran’ (the woollen cloak worn by Kashmiris during winter). Scattered on the road around the victim’s body are freshly plucked apples and a white bag which apparently contained them.

Taking to Twitter, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said the policy of “shoot first” will further alienate people.

“He was shot dead & his bag has no weapons or explosives, he’s carrying fruit & vegetables. This policy of “shoot first” will further alienate people. This is no way to make friends with the people or the youth of Kashmir,” Omar said. He was referring to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s remarks on Saturday that he wanted to make friends with the youth of Kashmir.

Condemning the killing, Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone tweeted: “…Will there be a probe? Will anyone take responsibility? Such killings only widen the gulf between the state and the people.”

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was sad that the armed forces “operate with such impunity” in Kashmir.

“Another innocent civilian killed allegedly by CRPF in Shopian today. It’s sad that armed forces show little restraint & operate with such impunity. My heartfelt condolences to his family,” she wrote on Twitter.

Condemning the killing of the civilian, CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami asked the authorities to probe the incident thoroughly to fix the responsibility.

“The circumstances in which the civilian was shot dead needs to be probed. Losing precious human life is unfortunate and mere condemnation of such heinous incidents isn’t enough,” Tarigami said in a statement.

He also demanded compensation to the victim’s family.

Apni Party president Mohammad Altaf Bukhari also demanded a time-bound probe into the circumstances that led to the killing of the civilian who had nothing to do with any kind of subversive activities.

“Killing of a civilian in this manner is extremely gruesome and mere condemnation of such incidents won’t work.  The incident must be investigated in a transparent manner so that the responsibility for loss of precious life of a civilian is fixed,” he added.

“Yet another life has been sniffed off; yet another mother will have to live with lifelong pain and agony. Sympathies and condolences seem hollow to console the bereaved household, whose heart-throb has been snatched away,” several NC leaders said in a joint statement while expressing unison with the bereaved family.

They also demanded that the circumstances leading to this killing be probed forthwith.

Pertinently, this is the second civilian killing in the month of October involving the CROF and it took place on the day when the Union home minister is in the union territory as part of the government’s J&K outreach programme.

On October 07, Parvez Ahmad Khan, a poor nomad and the breadwinner of his family of seven – including two minor daughters and pregnant wife besides ageing parents – was killed by CRPF men near a checkpoint in Anantnag’s Rooh-Monghal village.

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