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Published in the 16-30 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Eye-witness accounts of Shopian killings

By Firoz Tahir

Shopian, a town in south Kashmir, is in mourning. In the morning of September 9, army Jawans of 55 Rashtriya Rifles gunned down two youths including Rizwanul Haq, 17, of Dangarpura locality who was heading towards the mosque to offer his fajr namaz.

Former National Conference minister Sakina Itoo leads demonstration in Srinagar on 3 Nov. 04 for probe into an alleged rape by soldiers

Former National Conference minister Sakina Itoo leads 
demonstration in Srinagar on 3 Nov. 04 for probe
 into an alleged rape by soldiers

The residents of the village said that army personnel dragged the dead body of Rizwan to a secluded place and tried to bury him but when the locals resisted their move, they fired on them. Rizwan’s cousin Muzaffar Ahmad Ganai was killed in the firing.

The muazzin of the mosque, Abdul Aziz Butt, was on his way to the mosque. He saw someone hiding outside the mosque. He entered the mosque and made the call for prayers (adhan) at 5.10 AM. Meanwhile, he heard gunshot being fired outside the mosque. Butt and his son sat down in a corner as they did not muster courage to move out to see what was happening.

An eyewitness said that when the firing stopped, a woman of Butt’s family went towards the mosque with a lantern looking for Aziz. The army personnel started indiscriminate firing in the air. The frightened lady made a hasty retreat. The firing continued. According to locals, army jawans wanted to stop protests against the killings. A local said on the condition of anonymity that the army had told the people of Dangarpura that they were all militants and that the army would start operations against them.

Muzaffar Ganai was killed when people were protesting against the killing of Rizwan. When some people moved forward to take wounded Muzaffar Ganai to hospital, army jawans started firing again. A woman mustered courage to bring Muzaffar to the hospital, but he died on the way to the hospital. Many others were also injured in the firing. Ali Mohammad Ganai, Naseer Ahmad Ganai and Firoz Lone had been admitted in Bone and Joints Hospital of Barzalla. 

The army laid siege on the village on 9 September. Even the Tahsildar was not allowed to enter the village. During the operation, only a few police personnel were allowed to visit the place where killings had taken place. Since the muazzin Aziz Butt and his son were hiding in the mosque, army jawans considered them to be militants and surrounded the mosque. Locals were worried for them. An army officer said that if the muazzn and his son remained in the mosque, the siege would continue until they came out. Meanwhile, Waseem Ahmad Ganai, Mukhtar Ahmad Wani, Tariq Ahmad Butt, Shiraz Ahmad Pal and Shaukat Ahamd Pedro were interrogated and tortured. Thousands of people from the neighbouring villages came to Dangarpura and expressed their sympathy and consoled the families of those killed. (Translated from Kashmir-e Uzma, Srinagar, 13-19 Sept. 04)

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