NASEER A GANAI/MUDDASIR ALI
Koil (Pulwama), Dec 13: Today when people in two districts of Pulwama and Shopian were voting, police and CRPF men reportedly avenged anti-election protests by people in this small hamlet, killing a B.A Ist year student. Two other youth received bullet injuries.
The injured youth were rushed to the district hospital where from they were shifted to the SMHS hospital in Srinagar, some 60 kms from Pulwama. Doctors in SMHS declared Muzaffar, 21, brought dead. Zeeshan was operated upon and a part of his ruptured intestine was removed. However doctors termed his and Kumar’s conditions as stable. Residents termed the firing as unprovoked and targeted.
Panic had gripped the Koil village since early morning after SOG personnel and CRPF troopers entered the houses, allegedly threatening people to vote. The villagers including women had assembled on the roads.
Rashid Ahmad, a local said they heard four to five gunshots at 8 am and soon after the SOG personnel and CRPF troopers barged into some houses asking people to come out to vote. “It was peaceful till they entered into our houses,” Rashid said.
He said the extreme provocation prompted them to assemble on road near the Masjid.
“Soon after a group of SOG personnel, policemen and CRPF troopers reached on the spot and resorted to baton charging,” Rashid, 60, said.
They fired hundreds of bullets and several tear gas canisters in air to disperse the villagers, another local Muzaffar Hussain said. “But we stayed united fearing if we will return to our houses, the troopers will thrash us,” Muzaffar said.
He said the troopers and SOG personnel provoked them to pelt stones. “From a group of CRPF personnel, an aged trooper first started pelting stones forcing our youth to retaliate,” Muzaffar said.
The stone pelting had continued for 20 minutes. “As more people joined the protests another contingent of troopers joined by the SOG personnel reached the spot at around 11 am. They started thrashing everybody including women. Failing to disperse us, they entered our houses and damaged the window panes and doors and scattered house-hold items,” Ghulam Qadir said. The troopers had broken the window panes and a door of his house. “They even beat my two daughters,” said Qadir’s wife, Haja Begum amid sobs.
He said the firing continued till 11:30 am. “The troopers and the SOG fired thousands of bullets in air. Failing to disperse us and after running short of ammunition, they left the spot and protestors were pacified,” Qadir said.
Shakeel Ahmad said at around 12 pm another contingent of CRPF and police rushed to the spot. He said the villagers were peacefully sitting on the roadsides and shop vends. “But the CRPF and SOG personnel party opened fire on a group of people without any provocation injuring three youth,” he said.
Shakeel added the ‘unprovoked’ angered the villagers who engaged the troopers and SOG personnel in stone pelting. “They fired more bullets in air and resorted to baton charg injuring at least 20 more persons.”
At 1 pm the whole village had came out on the roads and anger was visible on every face. Men and youth were waiting for the body of Muzaffar to bury it. Inside the house of slain Muzaffar, hundreds of wailing women had gathered. They were trying to console the family members. But tears were trickling down from every face.
Barely 50 meters away from the house a grave was being prepared for Muzaffar in the martyrs graveyard. “Muzaffar is the 13th martyr of the village,” said Shabir Ahmad. His friend added that Muzaffar had secured distinction in the 10th and 12th class.
The photojournalists were again at the receiving end of the police and CRPF troopers today. When the news about the Koil incident spread in Pulwama, the photojournalists and reporters of various international, national and local media organizations rushed towards the spot. The security agencies stopped them and didn’t allow them to carry on with their professional work. They even tried to thrash them. But this didn’t stop the journalists and without caring for consequences covered the incident. Many photo journalists were later thrashed by the troopers.
The government on Friday evening had warned photojournalists not to rush to cover elections in towns before afternoon. The photojournalists refused to buckle down under pressure and rushed to various spots to do their professional duties.
The divisional commissioner Kashmir, Masood Samoon, in the evening said the government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killing of a person in Koil Pulwama. “The deputy commissioner Pulwama has been appointed as the inquiry officer. He has been asked to give a factual report within 15 days,” he told reporters in a press conference in Srinagar