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Road clearance, the police way
Four killings on the eve of Shab-e-Qadr this week have taken the toll of summer unrest to 69. The latest killings came as police parties were clearing road for police chief. Haroon Mirani reports.
After a week of relative calm, and as Kashmir seemed to ease a bit for the Eid-ul Fitr, police went on a killing spree in Pattan town on September 6.
Four people including a 16 year old fell to the bullets, when according to residents there was no provocation.
“Everything was normal as there was no strike as per the Hurriyat calendar, then suddenly at around 2pm SOG vehicles appeared in the market,” said Sajad Ahmad, a local resident. “They first shouted at people drawing attention and then started firing in all directions.”
The firing created total chaos as the people went helter shelter.
Sixteen-year-old Feroz Ahmad Malik known better as Showkat Ahmad became the first victim after he was shot in his abdomen. At that time Feroz was standing outside a poultry shop in the market. He was declared brought dead at Sub District Hospital Pattan. Another injured Noor-ud-Din Tantray of Tantray Mohalla, Palahalan succumbed to injuries at SKIMS. Noorudin had received bullets in both thighs.
Agitated over the police action, people came out en masse and started pelting stones on the raiding police party forcing them to retreat.
As the news of death of Feroz and Noorudin spread, thousands of people converged on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. This time the police again fired directly at the people killing two more and injuring a dozen.
The deceased were identified as Mudasir Ahmad Mir, 23, son of Muhammad Abdullah Mir of Ussan, Pattan and Mohammad Ramzan Mir, 45, son of Muhammad Sultan Mir of Ussan, Pattan. The duo succumbed to their injuries on way to hospital. Eyewitnesses alleged that they could have been saved if police and CRPF would have not blocked the main road. The vehicles carrying the critically injured were forced by police to take the longer route to Sumbal hospital.
Massive protests broke out as people again blocked the road demanding the action against the culprits.
According to eye witnesses all four who died during the daylong mayhem were not part of any protests.
The first victim Feroz Ahmad was at a shop buying chicken when the firing started and the bullet hit him. He is survived by his parents and two unmarried sisters.
The second victim was Noorudin Tantray, who used to work at a local band saw mill. On the fateful day he had just finished his work and was walking towards him home. He was shot in both thighs and bled to death on way to SKIMS.
The third victim Mohammad Ramzan was shot dead at Palhallan while on way to offer Nimaz-e-Jinaza (funeral prayers) of Feroz, who was killed in police firing earlier in the day. Ramzan’s brother Gulzar Ahmad was also arrested by CRPF and beaten to pulp. It was only after the elders went to forces pleading them to release Gulzar as his brother had been killed. After release Gulzar was rushed to Jhelum valley College hospital Srinagar for treatment. Ramzan is survived by six children and his widow.
Mudasir Abdullah used to work as a painter and was the sole breadwinner in his family. When the news of Feroz’s killing had spread, Mudasir was running to join the funeral prayers. Mudasir never reached the funeral as he was killed en-route in the ensuing police firing.
No policeman had been injured or any vehicle damaged prior to the incident. Police statement of the day suggested that the police party in the cavalcade of IGP fired to prevent stone pelting mobs to come near the cavalcade.
“On return from the spot IGP Kashmir and his entourage, accompanied by senior police officers came under heavy stone pelting at Palhalan. To prevent mobs from merging into the police party the accompanied force chased the mobs so as to disperse them off. In dispersal some persons were injured, three of them later on passed away.” the statement read.
There is no mention of any policeman being injured in stone pelting.
However, I G Kashmir S M Sahai later denied that any personnel from his cavalcade fired at the protestors. He told Hindustan Times that he has ordered the weapons of police to be checked to ascertain who opened fire.
According to local residents Pattan was at the target of SOG for long. The area has been witnessing intense pro-freedom protests.
The police statement on Monday also mentioned it. “This spot has been witnessing frequent stone pelting by frenzy mobs. Police, security force and civilian vehicles are being targeted at this place. Many civilians including the passengers of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus were injured in a number of stone pelting incidents,” the statement read.
Residents allege hat it was defiance in the area that was pestering police.
“They were unable to control Pattan as people were becoming more daring, which has started to demoralise security forces in the area,” a resident said. “So they killed so many people here just to instil