Babapora Killing: Police Say Crossfire, Family Denies

SRINAGAR: Coinciding with the visit of Home Minister Amit Shah, a young civilian was killed in an incident that triggered widespread condemnation. Now the entire political class is seeking an investigation into the murder.

Shahid Aijaz from Anantnag was killed in Zainapora on Sunday, October 24, 2021. Pic: Facebook

Identified as Shahid Ahmad Rather, the resident of Kharpora Nowgam in Arwani belt, was shot dead outside the CRPF garrison in Babapora, in the immediate vicinity of Zainpora, now a tehsil headquarter. A class twelefth dropout, he had gone to help an apple grower in the panic harvesting. The garrison houses personnel from 178 Bn CRPF.

The newsbreak about the incident came from the police itself. “Around 1030 hrs unidentified terrorists attacked a Naka party of 178 Bn, CRPF at Babapora, Shopian,” Shopian Police tweeted. “CRPF retaliated the fire and during cross-firing, one unidentified person got killed. Further details are being ascertained.”

However, the family of Shahid has termed the killing a “cold-blooded murder”. His brother Zubair told reporters that his brother was on his way home along with his two friends – all returning from days of apple picking in the area, when the CRPF killed him.

Shahid and his two friends were on their way to Zainpora when they saw CRPF personnel on the road outside the camp. Shahid was slightly behind the two. Then they heard a few shots and they fled to safety. Moments later, they were told that Shahid has been shot dead.

The photograph that went viral on social media showing Shahid dead near the vehicle has nothing to do with either of the three young men. They had seen it parked when they were moving towards Zainpora. It was one of the two friends of slain Shahid, who rang up his brother, Zubair and revealed the entire story. Zubair was also working in somebody’s orchard for many days and was slated to go home the same day. They wanted to go together but fate had planned it differently.

Zubair has insisted that there was no crossfire as claimed by the police. It was a targeted killing, he has said. Zubair and Shahid were earning for their poor family comprising their grandmother, parents, two sisters and a younger brother. Now it will be Zubair alone who will have to get the family out of poverty.

This is the second civilian killing involving CRPF. This killing came within hours after Home Minister Amit Shah said he wishes to become friends with the youth.

“This how you want to befriend youth of Kashmir, how you want to ‘establish’ peace @AmitShah ji? Are we allowed to even condemn ‘other’ victims like Parvaiz & Shahid? I don’t know about golden letters in history but pages of Aug 5 book are certainly stained with lot of blood,” Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson Najmu Saqib tweeted.

The party chief and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Another innocent civilian killed allegedly by CRPF in Shopian today. Its sad that armed forces show little restraint & operate with such impunity. My heartfelt condolences to his family.”

“Killing of a civilian in this manner is an extremely gruesome and mere condemnation of such incidents won’t work,” Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari said in a statement. “The incident must be investigated in a transparent manner so that the responsibility for loss of precious life of a civilian is fixed.”

Condemning the killing, the Peoples Conference said such an action unfortunate and condemnable. “Killing of civilian Shahid is highly condemnable,” Sajad Lone tweeted. “Will there be a probe? Will anyone take responsibility? Such killings only widen the gulf between the state and the people.”

Jammu and Kashmir Police issued a statement later in the evening. Here, it is being reproduced in detail:

“Today, at about 1030hrs Shopian Police received information about an attack by terrorists upon an area domination patrol party (ADP), of 178Bn CRPF at Babapora Shopian and killing of an unidentified person during the retaliation/cross firing by the CRPF party.

Preliminary investigation including statements of eyewitnesses revealed that terrorists fired upon the ADP party of CRPF, which was retaliated by the ADP party. During the cross-firing, service rifle (AK-47) of one of a ADP personnel, who was at the rear end was snatched by one of the associate of terrorists. He was challenged and ordered to stop. However, he kept running towards the direction from where ADP party was being fired and in the meanwhile he received bullet injuries in the cross-firing. One personnel of the ADP party also received injuries.

In this connection, a case vide FIR No.130/2021 under relevant sections of law stands registered in Police Station Zainapora and investigation has been initiated.”

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