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Army kills father of 9

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 25.04.10
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Srinagar, April 24: The army today shot dead a father of nine children in Shopian district, triggering massive protests in which half-a-dozen people were injured in firing by security forces and two army vehicles were torched.

The police have registered a murder case against the army, which claimed the victim and his companions had strayed into an ambush laid for militants and tried to flee when challenged.

The Shopian killing comes days after the army gunned down a 70-year-old man, who was branded the Valley’s oldest militant but turned out to be a beggar.

Shopian police chief Shahid Meraj said a murder case had been lodged against the troopers of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles for today’s killing “but the issue needs further investigation”.

The police said Ghulam Mohammad Kalas was killed and one of his two companions injured around 4.30am in Chawan village. “They were ferrying timber on their horses when the army opened fire at them. One of them died and another was injured. Two horses too died,” a police officer said.

Defence spokesman Lt Col J.S. Brar said the army had cordoned the area after receiving intelligence that “suspected terrorists were likely to pass through”. “When three people entered the cordon they were challenged but they started running away, prompting the troops to open fire. One person was killed, another injured and the third was apprehended and handed over to the police,” Brar said.

Hundreds came out on the streets to protest the killing, shouting pro-independence and anti-India slogans. “The people marched through the village with the body and threw stones at the security forces, leading to clashes,” an official said.

“Although the troops on the ground exercised the utmost restraint, an act of destroying government property will not be tolerated. The army has ordered an inquiry,” Brar said.