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.