Srinagar: A nomadic herdsman was killed and another wounded in Army firing in a remote area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban district early Sunday, triggering protests by Gujjar community. The State government has ordered an inquiry into the incident whereas the police has registered First Information Report (FIR) against the Army.
28-year-old Muhammad Rafiq Gujjar and 30-year-old Shakeel Ahmed were shot at by the troops of Army’s 58 Rashtriya Rifles in Kohli area of Ramban’s Gool tehsil at around 4 am when they had just returned home. Gujjar died on the spot. Ahmed who was injured in the firing was shifted to district hospital Ramban where he told reporters that the Army “barged into our dwelling and opened fire when we had just returned after delivering cattle” at a nearby place.
The Army, however, said that its men opened fire after they came under fire in the area. Jammu-based defence spokesman Lt. Col. Devender Anand said that the Army had on specific intelligence inputs launched an operation at Kohli. “At 3.45 am the Army patrol saw some suspicious activity. The suspected individuals were challenged by the Army as per Standing Operating Procedure (SOP). On being challenged, the suspected individuals opened fire upon the Army patrol. The Army patrol retaliated effectively,” he said.
The district administration has ordered an inquiry into the incident whereas the police has registered an FIR against the men of the Army unit involved in the incident. Confirming it, SSP Ramban Mohan Lal said an FIR has been registered against 58 Rastriya Rifles at Dharamkund police station and that the investigations were underway.
The incident comes a day after a 25-year-old youth of the Gujjar community was shot dead by the CRPF posted at the residence of former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah at Bhatindi in Jammu. Hundreds of people on Sunday attended his funeral and later held protests against the killing of an “innocent unarmed man.”
The protesters including the relatives of the youth Syed Murfad Shah blocked the Jammu-Bantalab road near his Chinore residence for several hours and demanded that an FIR be registered against the CRPF personnel and the case handed over to the Crime Branch of the J&K police for a thorough probe. The protesters also called for releasing the CCTV footage of the incident.
The CRPF has claimed that Shah had rammed his black Mahindra XUV (JK02BW-0568) into the front gate of the residence of Abdullahs and damaged some articles inside the premises and attacked one of its men before being shot dead.
The relatives of the deceased have, however, alleged that he had been called by a CRPF officer over some issue related to gun-licensing and was shot dead in cold blood after the two entered into an argument. Shah’s father runs a gun-shop in Bantalab area of Jammu. A local woman Raj Kumari who has claimed to be witness to the incident has said that Shah was shot twice outside the Abdullahs’ house and then dragged inside the premises by the CRPF personnel.
The government has already ordered a magisterial probe. No satisfied with it, Abdullahs’ party National Conference has demanded a probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party patron and executive chairman of State Legal Aid Committee Bhim Singh has urged Governor, N. N. Vohra, to institute a high power judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the high court. "The state Legal Aid Committee has collected evidence and felt that Shah was killed without any cause or reason," Mr. Singh said in a statement. It added, “This is also admitted that the deceased had no weapon or anything in his hand or in the car. The facts lead to the conclusion that it was a pre-planned murder." End it