Panchayat Polls Led To Murder Of Ex-serviceman

SRINAGAR: A former army officer was killed in Chenab Valley after the two feuding groups clash over Panchayat polls in the third phase on Saturday. He has been identified as Mohammad Hafiz, a 60-year-old, a resident of Joura village.

In protests, the residents blocked the Batote-Kishtwar highway at Thathri and sought immediate arrest of the accused, reports reaching here said.

Hafiz was killed and many others were survived with injuries as two groups clashed during the third phase of the Panchayat polls. After he was declared dead, the police took the body and conducted the mandatory autopsy.

Known locally as Hafeez Fouji, son of Mohammad Shafi, the Joura Khurd resident was one of the seven persons who were injured in the clash at Joura Khurd.

Reports said the district administration has assured the family that the case would be investigated and the family will be adequately compensated. The Deputy Commissioner has ordered setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the matter. It was not immediately known if any arrest has taken place or not.

Residents said the after the daylong polling, when the votes were counted and the results came out, one party lost the election. Frustrated, while fleeing the spot, they resorted to stone pelting on the winning side. In the stone pelting, three persons were seriously hit including the former captain and two Hindus, Hushar Singh and Dheeraj Kumar. They were probably celebrating the victory when the stone pelting started.

This is the first murder in the ongoing Panchayat polls. Interestingly, the apprehensions were the rebels might disrupt the polls but with the killing of the former army man, it seems the people are themselves taking law into their own hands.

(Photograph used in this copy is merely representational)

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