Youth shot dead by forces for jumping checkpoint, family denies police version

By Tahaa Yaseen

* Protests on
* Internet suspended

One civilian was killed and another injured when paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force Wednesday opened fire on them in Budgam district of central Kashmir, leading to protests and clashes in the area. The injured is a police officer and uncle of the deceased youth.

The police and CRPF said the two, travelling in a car, didn’t stop at a checkpoint and were fired upon. The authorities snapped cellular internet service in the district to stop any further protests.

The incident took place at Srinagar-Gulmarg road near Kawoosa crossing and the deceased has been identified as 25-year old Mehraj-u-din Peer son Ghulam Muhammad Peer, a resident of Makhama Beerwah Budgam.

Mehraj’s uncle, Ghulam Hassan – an Assistant Sub-Inspector in J&K Police – who was accompanying Mehraj, was injured in the firing and is being treated at SMHS Hospital.

Mehraj was on way to drop his uncle at Police Control Room Srinagar in his car when the incident happened.

Ghulam Hassan said it was a “cold blooded murder.”

“Mehraj was shot from point blank range,” the injured police Assistant Sub-Inspector said.

He said that he showed his identity card to police at the checkpoint and insisted that he should be allowed to move. “The policemen signalled at CRPF personnel who immediately opened fire on us,” he said, adding that the bullets pierced the chest of his nephew and within no time he lost a lot of blood.

Some people who were working in the nearby fields said Mehraj got down from the car before being shot. “They were asking him for something and he told them it was getting late,” the eyewitnesses said, adding that once Mehraj boarded the car, they opened fire at him.

Mehraj was a class 12th dropout and was running a Khidmat Centre at his village. He is survived by 3 brothers and 2 sisters.

CRPF said in a statement, “Today at about 1020 hours a civil vehicle, Wagon R, registration no. JK02AK 6702 broke a check point of J&K police and sped and came across another check point of CRPF, manned by troops of C/141 Bn CRPF and jumped this check point as well on Gulmarg-Narbal Road.

A convoy of Army at that point in time was passing through the adjacent road and fearing a sabotage, the CRPF jawan of C/141, manning this Naka, fired warning shots. The civil car was driving in the wrong direction of the road and that was even more alarming.

When the car didn’t stop, despite warning shots, the jawan fired at the car and in turn, the driver was hit on his left shoulder. Subsequently, he was shifted to SHMS Hospital Srinagar where he was declared as brought dead by the doctors.”

Police issued a similar statement, however adding that they have registered a case and started investigation.

Mehraj’s father Ghulam Nabi Peer termed the CRPF and police statement a ‘blatant lie.’

“They want to cover up the crime,” he said and demanded impartial inquiry into the incident.

He said that the paramilitary personnel first stopped him and then shot him.

People including women and children thronged the roads in Beerwah to protest as soon as the news spread. They were demanding impartial inquiry into the incident.

Groups of people started marching towards Beerwah, however police and paramilitary forces personnel stopped them, firing tear gas shells and metallic pellets on the protestors.

Several protesters received injuries in the police action, including pellet injuries.

Common tactic

Authorities shut down mobile internet service in the area, a common Indian tactic in the region when demonstrations erupt.

Indian forces have imposed a stringent lockdown in the region since late March to combat the coronavirus.

Despite the lockdown, India has stepped up its counterinsurgency operations while rebels have also continued their attacks on government forces and alleged informants.

Indian soldiers man checkpoints and bunkers across the region, where an armed resistance to Indian rule has raged since 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Residents make little secret of their anger at the troops’ presence and support the rebels’ call for the territory to be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

India and Pakistan each administer parts of Kashmir, but both claim the region in its entirety. 

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