Handwara, Indian Occupied Kashmir: Massive clashes broke out in Handwara town of North Kashmir’s frontier district Kupwara after two youths and a woman were killed in Indian Army firing on locals protesting a molestation bid on Tuesday.
Protests rock the town after Indian Army personnel from 21 Rashtriya Rifles allegedly made a molestation bid on a class 11th girl student. Witnesses told CNS that the victim had gone to bathroom to wash her feet, when the Army personnel deployed in a bunker located beneath the Army Town Commander Office grabbed her and tried to molest her. Police rushed to spot and took the victim to police station for recording statement, however, the incident sparked protest and angry protesters stoned the Army bunker. Amid pro-freedom slogans, the protesters targeted the vehicles of government forces while the later fired tear smoke shells to disperse them.
A hawker Ghulam Rasool told CNS that 21 RR, Jammu Kashmir Police and 92 Battalion of CRPF jointly dealt with protesters and it can’t be said accurately who fired directly on the protesters. One of the protesters who succumbed to his injuries received bullet in his head. He said several persons were injured while two youth and a woman died in government forces action. The deceased youth were identified as Nayeem Qadir Bhat of Gonipora Handwara and Muhammad Iqbal of Dragmulla Kupwara, Raja Begum of Langate. Reports said that Nayeem was a 2nd year student while Iqbal was working as a salesman in the town.
Eyewitnesses said that shortly after the killings, large number of people while placing the dead bodies on the road, staged massive protests. Amid pro-freedom slogans, the protesters damaged Army vehicles and attacked police station Handwara. Some protesters tried to set Army bunker on fire.
The situation according to police was tense but under control. A police official said that the statement of the girl will be recorded and if she blames Army personnel for molestation bid, they will arrest the guilty.
Badamibagh based Defence spokesperson Colonel NN Joshi told CNS that an inquiry has been ordered into the incident and those found guilty will be dealt as per law. “Army deeply regrets the unfortunate loss of life. Matter will be investigated and anybody found guilty will be dealt as per the law,” said a spokesman.
Meanwhile as per Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, Kumar Rajiv Ranjan, a magisterial inquiry was ordered into the incident.
SP Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani Wani, said that the two civilians had been killed during protests. “We are monitoring the situation and the investigation has been taken up in the case,” he said.
Tehsildar Handwara Bashir Ahmed said that local police did not open fire on the protesters. “After the molestation bid made by Army angry youth resorted to stone-pelting and one of the youth climbed up a police and brought down the Indian flag. Behind the bunker where Army personnel were present, bullets were fired resulting in the death and injuries of the protesters,” he said adding that situation in the town is very tense. (CNS)