‘Tahir Was Shot In Head’; Massive Protests Rock Baramulla
Baramulla, Mar 5: A 24 year old youth was killed and another injured after troops belonging to 46-RR fired at a group of people who were protesting against the ransacking of houses and damage to scores of vehicles parked in front of their houses by the troopers.
The slain youth has been identified as Tahir Ahmad Sofi S/O Ghulam Rasool Sofi, resident of Ganaie Hammam, Baramulla. Tahir received bullet in his head and was declared brought dead at district hospital Baramulla.
While another youth identified as Ajaz Ahmad Khan, resident of old town Baramulla received bullet in his foot and was being treated at district hospital here.
According to reports, a group of youth gathered near Kakar Hammam bridge this afternoon and started protesting against ransacking of scores of houses and damage to several vehicles earlier on Tuesday morning by the troopers. The troopers stationed near Khanpora bridge fired at the youth resulting in the instant death of Tahir and injury to another.
Soon after the incident, announcements were made over loudspeakers from the mosques about the killing of youth and thousands of people came out and started protesting against the killing.
The protesters carried the body of Tahir on their shoulders and marched towards the Deputy Commissioner’s office. Some protesters started pelting stones at DC office but later they left the complex with the body of Tahir towards the martyrs’ graveyard in old town Baramulla.
Amid pro-freedom slogans the body of slain youth was laid to rest at the graveyard in old town Baramulla. Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani addressed the funeral procession through telephone and father and the brother of the slain youth also addressed the mourners.
Later clashes between youths and police broke out at several places in the town. Police fired several tear smoke shells at Tehsil Road, Khanpora bridge and near Azad Gunj bridge.
Tahir had recently returned from Dehradun (Uttarakhand) after completing his post-graduation in MSW (Masters in Social Work). He has also done several projects on human rights in Dehradun and was eager to find a job in some foreign country.
According to Tahir’s friends, he had recently applied for a job in a private company in Kuwait and was optimistic to get it.
“He used to remain busy with playing cricket and was devoting his full time in religious activities,” said Hilal Ahmad one of his friends.
According to Manzoor Ahmad an old town resident, at around 3.00 pm troopers went on rampage and start ransacking houses and damaged scores of vehicles without any provocation. The incident happened at a time when traffic was partially running on the road and all the bridges which used to be closed during any volatile situation were completely opened for traffic movement.
Another local youth Bilal Ahmad said that there was no provocation at the time of incident and a few youths near Kakar Hammam started shouting at troopers who were stationed at Khanpora bridge. The troopers fired around three shots which hit directly Tahir on his head and he died on the spot. While another youth received bullet in his foot.
According to Tahir’s father, late last night he told his son that it was getting late they should go to sleep. “He (Tahir) told me let’s listen some Hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) first. Who knows will we be alive tomorrow”, he said.
Giving their version of the incident, an Army spokesman said that a foot patrol of Army while moving from Convoy Ground Baramulla to the company operating base was attacked by a violent mob of over 250 people. The aggressive mob, he said despite repeated warnings and caution, surrounded the patrol and people from within the crowd started attacking the Army personnel.
The spokesman said that the Army patrol was soon outnumbered, leaving some of them injured. “A person out of the mob assaulted the Army personnel with an iron rod creating a life threatening situation. To extricate themselves, the patrol fired, aiming in the air which could not have resulted into any injury,” he said and added that in any case, the place of incident where the person died was well away from the location of the patrol and could have in no way been affected by the firing by the patrol in the air. “This calls for detailed investigation by the Police.”
The spokesman said that Army reiterates that the death of Tariq Ahmad son of Ghulam Rasool could not have been caused due the firing by the Army personnel as extreme caution was exercised by them and the fire was deliberately aimed in the air. “There were intelligence inputs with regard to the plans by the militants to entangle Army personnel, particularly in Baramulla, in a protest and to attack the Army taking shield of the crowd with a view to trigger large scale violence. This was aimed at providing fodder for the inimical elements to disturb the peace in Kashmir. The death of the individual seems to be a part of the said design and the Army has ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of the truth,” he said and added that notwithstanding this, Army regrets the loss of life.