Handwara on boil after youth’s killing

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Baramulla, The native village of youth Shahid Ahmad Mir, who was gunned down by government forces in an alleged fake encounter in Hafrada forests in Handwara, witnessed violent clashes on Thursday, even as the slain youth’s family maintained that he was “killed in a staged encounter.”

Army had on Tuesday claimed to have killed a militant in Hafrada forests during a gun-battle with militants, but the alleged militant on Wednesday turned out to be a civilian who, according to police, has no involvement in militancy.

As the body of youth was handed over to locals on Wednesday evening, they refused to lay him to rest and instead marched towards Tarathpora—the native village of Shahid—where they staged a massive demonstration throughout the night against his killing. Amid intense sloganeering, deputy commissioner Kupwara visited the protesters on Thursday morning and tried to persuade them to lay the slain youth to rest. However, despite assurance from the deputy commissioner that their demand of issuance of no objection certificate (NOC) in favour of the slain youth and FIR against government forces allegedly involved in the killing will be fulfilled, the protesters refused to give in. The protests turned violent later.

Following violence, police swung into action and lobbed scores of teargas shells to quell the protests, but the clashes continued for several hours, the witness said. In the mille, several women fainted and people were seen running for safety.

Later, the body of slain youth was taken in a huge procession to Daril Tarathpora. Throughout the journey from Tarathpora Chowk to Daril Tarathpora, women were seen beating their chests and showering petals on the body. Later, Shahid was laid to rest in a local graveyard amid intense pro-freedom sloganeering.

Talking to journalists, father of the slain youth said his son was a college student and not connected to any militancy-related activity which can be verified through police records.

He alleged that his son was killed in a “staged encounter” and the killing “needs an impartial inquiry to ascertain why he was killed in Hafrada forests.”

“He was missing from last few days and a missing report was lodged in police station Vilgam. We came to know on Tuesday that he was picked up by forces and later killed in staged encounter in Hafrada forests,” Bashir Ahmad Mir, father of slain youth, said.

Questioning government forces’ version, Ahmad said “if army claims he was killed in Hafrada forests after a gun-battle raged between army and militants on Tuesday, then where are the bodies of other militants?”

“This is a staged encounter undertaken by security forces for their promotions,” Ahmad alleged.

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