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Probe ordered against Army killing in Kashmir

Srinagar: A magisterial probe has been ordered after police registered a case against Army in connection with killing of a youth in border district Kupwara on February 4. Another probe has been ordered in Maloora-Shalteng blast that claimed lives of three children.

Manzoor Ahmed Magray, 23, was allegedly shot dead by security forces on the night of February 4 near Chogal-Handwara in Kupwara. An FIR No. 26 of 2011 under section 302 has been registered by police on February 5, against 4 Para in police station Handwara.

As soon as the news spread, people in the area took to the streets and staged protest demonstrations. They were demanding stern punishment for those responsible for the killing. Locals allege that Magray was shot dead by a road-opening party of Army’s 4 Para and 30 RR around 10:05 PM on February 4 night near Bon Mohallah in Chogul.

His family said their son was “picked up from the house and taken to a nearby bridge where he was shot dead”. Amidst sobs and wails, the family pleaded that their son wasn’t remotely connected with militancy. “The Army has devastated our family”, says Magray’s father, Ghulam Ahmad.

Srinagar based spokesman of Army, J S Brar in a statement issued here claimed that the youth was killed in an ambush laid by Army on a tip-off about movement of militants in the area. He regretted the loss of the youth in firing in a year that has been declared ‘Kashmir Awam year’ by the Army.

“Based on specific intelligence on movement of militants, Army laid an ambush on the night of February 4-5 in Maidan Chogul, Pohrupet, Handwara to trap militants. At approximately 2230 hours, security forces detected suspicious movement of two persons moving towards ambush and challenged them to surrender, but they paid no heed. Accordingly, security forces opened fire resulting in fatal injuries to Magray and other unidentified person escaped”, said the spokesman.

The chief minister Omar Abdullah on February 5 drove to Chogul-Handwara to express his condolence to the family. Expressing his apology to the bereaved family, the chief minister said the “incident shouldn’t have happened”. He assured the family of speedy action. A magisterial probe has been ordered by Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara Mohammad Shafi Rather to fix responsibility in Magray’s killing and it is expected to submit its finding within a month.

In another incident, three children were killed and two others injured when a shell exploded at Maloora-Shalteng on February 13. The shell exploded inside the house of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat when his children were fiddling with it. All the five injured were rushed to a hospital where two of them, Noor Muhammad (15) and Bismah (9) were declared brought dead. Four-year-old Muskan passed away the next morning. Pertinently, three Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in the area in an encounter with Army on October, 10 last year.

The chief minister on February 17 said that an inquiry has been ordered. “We hope such things aren’t repeated”, he said while talking to reporters on sidelines of a function organized by department of agriculture at SKICC.

Reports say that Army’s 2 RR and Special Operations Group (SOG) of police on February 17 carried out search operations in Maloora to trace any possible explosives left behind during last year’s encounter between militants and security forces. Police says it was part of their routine work and was carried out to instil confidence among residents. The government has also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs five lakh each to kin of slain.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 15

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