Civilian killing: Police claims militants killed youth, family blames government forces

Qasim Bazaz

Srinagar, Sep 27: A youth was allegedly shot dead by government forces in Noorbagh area of this capital city on Thursday setting off massive protests in which nearly fifteen people were injured, seven of them with pellets.

In wee hours today, special operations group (SOG) of police and CRPF laid a siege around Bagwanpora locality of Noorbagh amid “credible inputs” about the presence of militants in the area, a police spokesperson told GNS.

The militants hiding in one of the houses, the police spokesperson said fired indiscriminately causing the death of a youth. Police identified the slain youth as Saleem Malik, son of Mohammad Yaqoob.

However, the family strongly contested the police claims and called Malik’s killing a cold-blooded murder.

Malik’s uncle Ghulam Mohammad Wani told GNS that around 3:45 am today, the government forces appeared in the locality and raided a few houses in search of militants.

“My nephew was woken up by some noise. He presumed burglars have entered the shed to steal his sheep or birds. As soon as he stepped out, the government forces fired a volley of bullets at him killing him on the spot,” Wani said.

“My nephew was killed in cold blood. Over twenty bullets were fired at him. Killing innocent civilians inside their homes is the worst form of state terrorism,” he said while showing empty cartridges and breaking down in tears.

Wani, who claimed to have served the police department, said that the killers of his nephew must be identified and punished at the earliest. He said the family will continue with the protests till justice is delivered.

“I and my four sons will pick up arms if the killers of my nephew are not taken to task. This boy had never in his life hurled a stone. He was killed brutally,” he said.

Malik, 26, was the youngest among the four siblings, including two sisters. His father runs a barbeque shop in the locality while mother is a housewife.

Malik’s killing set off massive pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations in Noorbagh and its neighbourhood localities. Hundreds of people chanting slogans hit the streets and staged a protest against the killing.

Angry protesters pelted rocks at the government forces to vent their ire against the killing, witnesses told GNS. They said government forces fired pellets after they failed to disperse protesters with batons and tear smoke shells.

“In the pitched battles that continued for several hours, at least fifteen youth sustained injuries, seven of them were hit by pellets and other injuries were due to tear gas shelling,” witnesses said.

Seven of the seriously injured youth were identified as Asif Ahmad (22), Adil Ahmad (25), Furqan (22), Fahmeeda (25) daughter of Mohd Sultan Bhat, Ghulam Rasool (30), Shabir Ahmad (32) and Ali Mohammad (18).

Among injured Asif suffered an injury in the head due to tear gas and pellets.

Meanwhile, the protests triggered by the killing prompted the district authorities to snap internet services across the capital city. In the old city, curfew-like restrictions were imposed to prevent protests from spiralling out of control.

Earlier, hundreds of people attended funeral prayers of the slain youth before he was taken in a procession to martyrs graveyard in Eidgah. Amid vociferous pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the youth was laid to rest.

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