David L. Chaplin II
Impunity Watch; Asia
SRINAGAR, India – Protest erupted Saturday in northern Indian-administered Kashmir, in a village, after the Indian army killed a young student in his twenties late Friday night.
- Villagers carry the body of Manzoor Ahmad Magray who was shot dead by the Army when he walked into an ambush it laid for militants in Handwara town of north Kashmir on Saturday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The family of the victim alleged the boy had been taken out of his home by the soldiers and his body was found early Saturday. But, the Indian army said the man was shot after he walked into an ambush it laid after getting specific information about movement of militants in the area.
Mohammad Shafi Rather, district magistrate the death occurred, told CNN that a murder case has been registered against the army unit, and an investigation has been ordered into the killing of the man, identified as Manzoor Ahmad Magray.
Television footage showed thousands of people marching in the streets on Saturday to voice their anger. Residents assembled and staged a protest shouting pro-freedom slogans as the villagers carried the man’s body to a highway and laid it there, blocking traffic.
It was only after the district magistrate promised an investigation; the villagers took the body to a graveyard for burial.
The Indian army issued a statement Saturday morning regretting the man’s death, but maintaining that “the troops had adhered to standard operating procedure (SOP) in the incident.”
The army’s statement said Magray had walked into the ambush along with another individual. After being challenged to surrender, the two started running away, at which point the troops opened fire.
“We deeply and sincerely express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family on this incident,” said Lt. Col. J.S. Brar, a Srinagar-based defense spokesman.
Relatives of Magray rejected the army’s statement that the young man had refused to stop and charged that he had been killed “in cold blood”.
“Torture marks were visible on the body of Magray. There was only one bullet wound in the lower part of the leg,” said Shabir Ahmad, a relative.
Security forces have been accused by human rights organizations of extrajudicial killings and acting with impunity.
“How can one not condemn the death of 21-year-old Manzoor at the hands of the Army late last night? Another needless death in a bloody Kashmir,” Mr. Abdullah posted on Twitter.
Separatist organizations too condemned the killing, saying that security forces had not changed their policy of “killing innocents in Kashmir”.
A long summer of pro-independence unrest was sparked in Indian administered Kashmir last year by the killing of an 18-year-old boy in police action in the capital, Srinagar.
“Over 120 innocent persons have been killed by the security forces during the last [few] months but action has not [been] taken [on] any person so far,” she said, adding that the way the government was responding to such cold-blooded murder reflected its insensitivity towards human tragedies.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a Himalayan region split between India and Pakistan.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the killing and said it could have been avoided had his suggestions at the Unified Headquarters been taken seriously.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti regretted that while the count of the dead, comprising mostly youngsters, kept mounting, the government was busy deceiving people, filing mere FIRs.
For more information, please see:
CNN – Protest follows killing of man in Kashmir village – 5 February 2011
Voice of America News – Kashmiris Protest Army Shooting – 5 Fedruary 2011
The Hindu – Protests rock Handwara after killing of youth by Army; Omar upset – 5 February 2011