Photos and Text by Aabid Nabi
Bandipora: A 21-year-old youth, Hilal Ahmed Dar, was killed in Army firing in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Tuesday night. He was killed in Halmathpora village in the Aloosa area of the district, 55 kms from Srinagar. The killing has triggered massive protests across the area and several people have been injured in the clashes.
“We came to know in the morning that a civilian was killed by the troops,” locals said. As the word about the killing of the youth spread, hundreds of people came out on streets and staged massive protest demonstrations against the Army. The protestors blocked Sopore-Bandipora road and didn’t allow traffic to pass. They are demanding stern action should be taken against the ‘culprits’.
Villagers and Hilal’s family claim that he had left the village mosque after the Tarawi (Ramzan prayers) on Tuesday when forces opened fire at him.
Hilal was an employ at a cement factory on the outskirts of Srinagar city. “He was not involved in militancy at all,” Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar, his father, said. “Every now and then, innocent youth are being killed by Army. These troopers must be made accountable. They do what they like as the government of India has given them a free hand,” he told reporters here.
More than thousand people took part in the protests and raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. Protestors, carrying Hilal’s body, marched from Aloosa village, to Bandipora town. Sources say that 27 RR and 5 Para men in a joint operation cordoned off the vast area of Ashtangoo forest in the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday. During the operation, they shot dead Hilal and claimed that they have killed an unidentified militant.
However, locals identified the body later and staged protests. To pacify the protestors, the officers of civil and police administration reached Aloosa and assured people of action against the accused. District Magistrate Bandipora, Manzoor Ahmed Lone told reporters that he will look into the matter and an inquiry will be conducted. “I am trapped in a gathering and I can’t say right now what is to be done. Let the demonstrations be over. We will look into the matter,” he said.
This is the second such incident in Bandipora in one week. A 25-year-old shepherd was injured three days ago in a similar Army operation in the district.