Witnessing murder

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An otherwise calm colony of Islamabad town, Anchidora, witnessed horror on June 29, when three youth were killed in cold blood, in the compound of a residential house allegedly by police. Shahid Ahmad revisits the events of the day.

The Anchidora area near SK (Sher-i-Kashmir) Colony on Khanabal- Pahalgam (K.P) road where the three teenagers were shot dead allegedly by policemen on June 29, continues to be in shock. Residents say that for the locality, it was a day of horror with no precedence even at peak counterinsurgent Ikhwan domination in mid nineties.
There are many residents who claim to have witnessed the murders, but refuse to give their names, for fear of a backlash.

Videos of the aftermath, showing bodies lying in pool of blood in a residential compound have appeared on Youtube and Facebook. Youth allege that police is now harassing those who had uploaded or shared the video online.
“It was a murder which we and our children saw. We will never forget it and never ever forgive those who have committed this murder,” says an elderly person of the locality.

Residents, young and old, men, women and children, are seething with anger.

“I along with some other locals of S K Colony was sitting outside a shop, when we heard bullets shots being fired by the police who were chasing the protesters in a Rakhshak vehicle (A bullet proof police car). We got panicky and ran for safety inside one of the lanes that connects the colony with Anchidora,” says a local resident, a teacher in a government school.

He said policemen then alighted the vehicle firing indiscriminately at them.
Two bullets, witnesses say, hit Fayaz Rather of nearby Qazibagh Mohalla on the shoulder and he fell in a pool of blood. He is recuperating in SKIMS Srinagar.
Dozens of youth were running for safety and many of them entered the house of Ghulam Ahmad Khanday.

Some youth entered the house while others remained in the lawn including Khanday’s 15 year old son Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday. Imtiyaz Ahmad Yeetoo, 17, a bakery shop worker in SK colony and Shujatul-Islam, 19 of Anchidora were also standing in the lawn.

A few children say they were peeping through windows and went on to “witness horror”.

Policemen, they say, led by senior officials broke open the main gate with kicks.

“They first caught hold of Shujat-ul-Islam and shot him in the face. Blood starting oozing out. Then the officer caught Ishtiyaq kicked him down and fired on his throat,” said the teacher. “I will never forget the face of that officer,” he said.

He said despite being shot Islam tried to save Ishtiyaq. “But the officer fired two more bullets at him. Later he again fired upon Ishtiyaq in the chest and also caught hold of Imtiyaz and fired him on head and chest,” he said.

Later, residents say, police fired indiscriminately on other youth injuring Nazeer Ahmad of nearby Anwala village who received three bullets on the shoulder, Zahid Ahmad son of Muhammad Sayeed of Qazibagh and a ten-year-old Suhail Ahmad son of Javaid Ahmad Bhat of Anchidora.

“After killing the youth the officer shouted that he has given Azadi to four people,” said another resident, a BBA student.

There are reports that that Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Jaipal Singh and DIG South Kashmir A S Bali were present at Laizbal that time, the spot where protests were going on, and from where the police vehicle went inside the colony. The SSP Anantnag, SP (Operations) and Additional Deputy Development Commissioner (ADC) were also near the spot.

Earlier that morning, CRPF personnel had fired upon a teenager Arshad Ahmad at Mattan Chowk injuring him in the leg.

A resident of Chatergul, Ahmad worked in a tea stall, and the residents said the fire was unprovoked.

“Arshad,  was waiting outside the shop he worked at, along some other people  when a CRPF vehicle reached there an fired three bullets on his leg,” say the residents of Mattan Chowk adding that he was shifted to Srinagar in a serious condition.

The incident triggered massive protests leading to curfew in the volatile areas of old town including Malakhnag, Cheeni Chowk, Reeshi Bazar, Sherpora, Janglat mandi, Reeshi Bazar, Dangerpora, Mattan Chowk and also Lal Chowk.

The locals of Anchidora area of Islamabad show shells fired by forces in the area. (KL Image: Shah Hilal)

Sporadic protest demonstrations, sometimes violent, do occur in these localities since Amarnath land row agitation. But this day the focus shifted to the KP road. Hundreds of youth assembled at Laizbal area of the KP road and started protesting against the CRPF action. They pelted stones on the paramilitary and police who retaliated by teargas and aerial fire.

Protestors blocked the road, and police stopped tourist vehicles at Khanabal to avoid trouble. The Yatra was also supposed to begin two days after only on July 1. The police men according to the eyewitnesses tried to clear this important road by chasing the protesters and using force but in vain, as the youth regrouped time and again.

Then at around 4 pm they chased the protesters in a Rakshak vehicle inside the SK colony and then into Anchidora, where the incident occurred. The incident spot is about one kilometre away from Laizbal, where the protests were going on.
The killings lead to further protests in the area. Agitated protesters torched two CRPF vehicles, an ambulance, government vehicles and a police post of Bus Stand. Curfew was clamped in the entire town next day only that remained in force for 13 days.

The Amarnath pilgrims proceeding towards Pahalgam were allowed to move in the evening amid tight security and the Army conducted several flag marches on the KP road.

Following, the resentment among the public against the cold blooded murder of these teenagers, the government ordered magisterial enquiry into the incident and appointed Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) as the enquiry officer. However, the families of the victims rejected the magisterial enquiry and demanded arrest of the accused and booking them under murder charges.

“How is it possible that an ACR who is subordinate to DC and ADC would give report against them,” said the family of the victims.

The ordering of enquiries, they say is just a ploy to buy time.

Though some of the residents have been demanding judicial probe into the incident, others particularly the youth want the police officials to be booked for murder.
“The incident has been filmed on video and have been uploaded on YouTube and social networking sites like Facebook. Every district and police official knows the culprit but are deliberately trying to shield them. If they are really sincere they should arrest them and book them under murder case. The enquiries are mere eyewash meant to buy time so that people would forget the incident,” said a group of youth at Anchidora.

In a major twist, the preliminary police report blamed unidentified gunmen for the murders. Its FIR submitted to the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, says, “Some of the miscreants were pelting stones on the policemen and the police and the CRPF were maintaining utmost restraint  in dealing with the law and order problem by only resorting to aerial firing and shelling. As, the clashes were on in SK Colony and Anchidora some unidentified gunmen from the Anchidora side fired on some persons on June,29, Tuesday at about 4 pm. injuring seven of them, three of whom died on their way to hospital.”

It further reads that all the injured were then rushed to the hospital by the protesters themselves.

The FIR no 261/2010 against the unidentified gunmen has been lodged under section 157/148/336/427/307 RPC. Further more, another FIR. 260/2010 has been registered against unidentified gunmen regarding the firing on another teenager, Arshid Ahmad at Mattan Chowk injured in the morning at 10 a.m. on the same day in a separate firing incident.

Though, the police have constituted its own investigation team, Special Investigating Team (SIT) headed by DSP (DR), but the report remains unchanged. Besides, the report of the magisterial enquiry which was to be submitted to the government by July, 15 hasn’t been submitted yet.

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