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Valley tense after Army kills protesters
By a correspondent in Srinagar

The valley is still unable to come out of the shock after the serial firing of the troops on the peaceful protesters. Five people were killed by the army in Haigam in Baramulla district on 15 february when it opened fire on peaceful protesters protesting against the custody death of Jaleel Ahmad Shah, a medical shop owner. According to the police version Jaleel Ahmad Shah was a hizbul Mujahideen militant. But locals refuse this charge and say that he was a member of the non-militant organization JKLF.

One person died on the spot while three others including a women and her daughter, succumbed to the injuries in a local hospital. Shah’s sister and three other women were among the severely injured people. Seven people with fatal head injuries were shifted to a hospital. Members of shah’s family and people from Haigam and adjoining Badgam, Tarzoo and other villages took to the streets with the shopkeepers bullet ridden body as soon as it was handed over to them on 15 February. The demonstrators were demanding action against the Army and Special Operation Group who had arrested him a few days ago.

Next day a teenager was killed in Maisuma while protesting against the killing of the trader and the five protesters who were killed in Haigam. The police and the BSF had total control of the situation when the incident happened in Maisuma. The man who opened fire is reported to be from the military intelligence and the police arrested him immediately and an FIR was lodged against him.

But people were amazed to see the story being changed totally. Within hours the entire story was changed and the police chief AK Suri denied any armyman being arrested. A police officer is reported to have told media persons that ‘ At times one has to close his eyes in national interests. The police seems to have not learnt any lessons from these two incidents in succession and when people protested against the killing in Haigam and Maisuma the police opened fire once again on 17 February on the protesters in Srinagar injuring two persons.

People everywhere in the Valley have protested the killing of the innocent people by the Army personnel. The whole Valley reacted positively on the call given by the Hurriyet Conference. All the markets and educational institutions remained closed in the Kashmir valley for consecutive two days. Meanwhile all the leaders of the Hurriyet Conference have been put under house arrest by the local administration.

In the meantime a police officer Khurshid Ahmad Khan who survived the Army’s firing on a protest rally in which five persons were killed has lodged an FIR against the Armymen, including the Army officers. The report says that ‘the armymen led by an officer of the 29 Rashtriya Rifles went berserk though there was no provocation from the protesting villagers, who had blocked the national highway at Haigam. Though Khan has not mentioned the officer’s name but he says that he can recognize the officer who resorted to firing on the mob and also ordered his men to fire.

Khan says in his FIR that he was persuading demonstrators to allow the Rashtriya Rifles convoy that had come to regulate the protests to smoothly pass. Khan says he requested the Army officer to wait for a few minutes, ‘but the officer did not listen to anything.’

Meanwhile the Hurriyet conference has vocally condemned the killing of the innocent people by the Army. Hurriyet Conference chief Abdul Ghani Bhat says that, ‘calling ceasefire after cease-fire is meaningless unless it is translated at the ground level and strengthened by more initiatives to take it forward. The custodial killing and firing on peaceful demonstrators will only evoke a pungent reaction from the public.’

Meanwhile the Army arguably for the first time in the Valley has accepted the responsibility for killing innocent people in the firing. A army spokesman has said that the army committed mistake when few of its men opened fire on the angry protesters. 

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