In­dian troops fire at Kash­mir pro­test­ers; teenager killed


Gov­ern­ment forces fired on an­tiIn­dia pro­test­ers Satur­day and killed a teenage stu­dent on the sec­ond day of vi­o­lent clashes in the dis­puted Hi­malayan re­gion of Kash­mir, po­lice said. Rel­a­tives dis­puted the of­fi­cial ac­count, say­ing the boy was killed in cus­tody.

The pro­test­ers, hurl­ing rocks and shout­ing slo­gans, had gath­ered Satur­day morn­ing in the west­ern vil­lage of Nar­bal as shops, busi­nesses and public trans­porta­tion shut down for a strike called by sep­a­ratists chal­leng­ing In­dia’s sovereignty in Kash­mir, po­lice said.

Troops fired on the demon­stra­tors, killing the boy, po­lice in­spec­tor gen­eral Syed Javaid Mu­jtaba Gil­lani said. Rel­a­tives and vil­lagers con­tested the of­fi­cial story, how­ever, say­ing the teen had been picked up by au­thor­i­ties be­fore be­ing shot.

“They de­tained him and held him on a road­side for a while. Later they shot him,” the boy’s un­cle Tariq Ahmed Sofi told re­porters.

In an un­usual move for law en­force­ment in Kash­mir, po­lice quickly opened a case for mur­der and be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing the boy’s death. In a state­ment, they called the in­ci­dent “un­for­tu­nate” and said the pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry in­di­cated that In­dian forces “acted in vi­o­la­tion of the laid down SOP (stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure).”

“All this is mat­ter of in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” po­lice direc­tor-gen­eral K. Ra­jen­dra said. “We’ve reg­is­tered a case, and the truth will come out.”

Lo­cals and rights groups have long said, how­ever, that such inves- tiga­tions rarely yield re­sults and are aimed only at calm­ing public anger.

The boy was iden­ti­fied as Suhail Ahmed Sofi. His ex­act age was not im­me­di­ately clear, with re­ports rang­ing from 15 to 18 years old.

News of his death drew hun­dreds more an­gry vil­lagers to join the protests in Nar­bal, and troops tried to dis­perse them with tear gas. At least six po­lice of­fi­cers and para­mil­i­tary sol­diers and four pro­test­ers were in­jured. Some pro­test­ers torched a gov­ern­ment-run cafe­te­ria.

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