Mistaken Identity

Last week, two soldiers were killed and three others injured at Chittergam on the outskirts of Srinagar when a fellow army unit fired on a private vehicle that refused to halt at a barrier erected by security forces. This was not the first such instance of ‘mistaken identity’. Tasavur Mushtaq travels into the recent past to suggest that this phenomenon is not so uncommon.

Live encounter -- Photo:Bilal Bahadur.
Live encounter — Photo:Bilal Bahadur.

JANUARY 4, 2012
BSF Havaldar S Kaltron posted at the paramilitary’s 94 battalion camp at Balnoi belt post in Poonch, shot at H Battacharya who died in the hospital. He had reacted to suspicious movements but his target turned out to be his colleague.

FEBRUARY 6, 2011
Soldiers killed an innocent laborer, Manzoor Ahmad Magray, 21 at Chogal in Handwara. Though Army said Magray was a “victim of mistaken identity” but his family alleged he was shot dead in cold blood after being picked up from his house. A magisterial enquiry was ordered.

Manzoor Ahmad Pathwal, 32 was killed by 14-RR soldiers in Kudar forests in Bandipore. Army said it was case of mistaken identity as Pathwal ran away when soldiers challenged him to stop during the night.

JUNE 29, 2010
soldier, Sepoy Hardeep Singh, was killed in a case of mistaken identity by his own colleagues inside a 6-Rashtriya Rifles at Vilgam in Handwara during the night. The guard challenged the suspected intruder who did not pay any heed to signal, prompting the guard to open fire at him.

APRIL 19, 2010
Habibullah Khan, a 70 year old beggar, was killed by 6-RR in “an encounter” in Rainwari forests. Later, it was added to the cases of mistaken identity.

JANUARY 5, 2009
This was the first killing of after Omar Abdullah took over. The 40-year-old deaf and dumb, Abdul Rashid Reshi of Veer Saran Pahalgam, was mistaken as intruder and killed at the main gate of the Commander 31 Sub Area’s residence on Gupkar Road.

FEBRUARY 2, 2009
Fayaz Ahmad Mir of Khurhama (Kupwara), a tailor, was killed by 18-RR when he came out to attend to the nature’s call during late hours. An enquiry conducted by DGP said it was a case of mistaken identity as the soldiers had laid an ambush and they mistook him as a militant.

APRIL 11, 2008
24-year-old mentally challenged youth, Shakeel Ahmad Malik of Boniyar Uri, was shot dead by army when he tried to sneak into 22 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Mazbug village. Police registered a case as army termed the incident as “unfortunate.”

AUGUST 12, 2006
group of villagers from Chehal (Dragmulla) were on way to the forests. A mixed contingent of 33 RR and SOG opened fire killing Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Tantray (43) and Ms Rubina (14) on the spot. Defense personnel in Srinagar regretted the killings saying they were killed in mistaken identity as the patrol had laid an ambush and soldiers mistook axes on their shoulders as guns.

DECEMBER 17, 2006
Sonaullah Magray (70), the numberdar of Tarigam in Islamabad, was shot dead by 49 RR soldiers when he was on way to a mosque for the morning prayers. Ordering a probe, police said it was a case of “mistaken identity.”

OCT 8, 2005
Justice V K Jhanji ordered central government to pay additional compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh to the kin of Mohammad Sadiq Khan (40), Talib Hussain (45) and Bashir Mohammad (24) killed by the troops in a mistaken identity and also directed the state government to provide jobs to one dependant of each family. They were killed while moving out in violation of the curfew and without carrying torch.

JULY 24-25, 2005
Three boys – Bilal Ahmad Sheikh (14), Shabir Ahmad Shah (16), Waseem Ahmad Wani (11) were killed in Bangergund, Handwara when they came out of a marriage ceremony probably to smoke when soldiers from 6-RR shot them. Injured included groom’s brother. Four parallel enquiries were announced in the incident that army said was a case of mistaken identity.

APRIL 10, 2006
Soldiers from 18 RR fired at Hakim Noori and her two sons Nazir and Bashir when they were moving around in their forest hamlet of Marg Dewar in remote Lolab. The latter died on spot and the two survived injured. Army said they were not carrying lanterns, thus making it a case of mistaken identity.

APR 2, 2008
Soldiers from 42-RR shot dead Gamia Gujjar (32) in Branpathri Nagbal village in Tral in cold blood. Massive protests broke out as Army regretted the killing and termed it a case of “mistaken identity.” Gamia, basically a resident of Kalakote, married and settled in Tral belt since 1992, was killed when he was on way to offer Fajr prayers.


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