Omar jumps into flames, douses fire
Army kills Handwara youth on
’s Solidarity Day with Kashmiris Pakistan
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Feb 5: In the very beginning of Army’s “Solidarity Year with the Kashmiri People” and exactly on Pakistan’s “Solidarity Day with the Kashmiri People”, troops of Rashtriya Rifles 33 Bn gunned down a 21-year-old member of a National Conference (NC) family in Handwara. However, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and NC’s MLA, Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan, quickly jumped into the flames and doused a fire that carried every promise of igniting a fresh turbulence and getting the separatist leadership back from its bankruptcy.
Nothing better would have rescued the separatist Hurriyat and its cheerleaders in the Valley from the unenviable position they had landed in with the brutal killing of two young women of a family in Sopore last week. Troops of RR 33 Bn, according to official sources, opened fire on 21-year-old Manzoor Ahmed Magray S/o Ghulam Ahmed Magray and left him dead yards away from his residence at Gund Chogal village, in Handwara, late last night. He died on spot.
Over 2,000 residents of Chogal and adjoining villages gathered in the morning today and began registering their anger and protest against Army while shouting slogans and demanding immediate legal action---detachment, arrest and prosecution---against the killers. Even as a section of the gathering had begun shouting pro-Azadi slogans, NC’s local MLA and former Minister, Chowdhary Ramzan, rushed all the way from
to Gund Chogal and established control over the angry crowds. He spoke to Chief Minister on telephone and convinced him that his condolence visit alone could douse the fire Army had lit at a critical time. Srinagar
It was two years after the killing of a couple of innocent civilians at Bumai, in Handwara-Sopore belt of North Kashmir, and the death of another civilian in a late night ambush at Karewa Manlu, in Shopian area of South Kashmir, that Army gunned down a young civilian in Handwara last night. Much ironically, he was shot dead when Army had just announced Year 2011 as its “Solidarity Year with the Kashmiri People” and everybody in the Valley’s separatist camp---including political leaders and militants---was facing unprecedented embarrassment over the killing of two female members of a family, allegedly by militants, in Sopore. As if that was not enough, Army did the year’s first civilian killing on the eve of
’s “Solidarity Day with the Kashmiri People”. Pakistan
It was also the first civilian killing by troops in J&K since the new General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command, Lt Gen K T Parnaik, and General Officer Commanding 15th Corps, Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, took over early last month.
Spokesman at headquarters of Army’s 15th Corps in
, Lt Col J S Brar, said in a statement that troops were in an ambush outside the village when two men happened to pass around 2200 hours last night. “In keeping with Standard Operational Procedure, troops asked them to stop. But, they fled away. Soldiers opened fire that unfortunately caused the death of Manzoor Ahmed Magray. His accomplice managed to escape”, Col Brar said. He added that Army had apologized to the family launched an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of an innocent civilian. Srinagar
Residents of Gund Chogal and adjoining villages countered that SOP had never been observed. “The SOP makes it incumbent upon troops to inform the local Police Station and the village headman and take them along to the area to be cordoned. Neither of them had been informed or involved with the operation”, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat of Peth Pohru village pointed out. Officials at Police Station of Handwara corroborated Bhat and confirmed to this newspaper that they were informed only about the killing late last night.
Even as emotional images and scrolls of the year’s first civilian killing (by the government forces) on television news channels threatened to break the fragile calm in Kashmir, Chowdhary Ramzan, followed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, rushed to Handwara by road. Divisional Commissioner, Asgar Samoon, and Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, too followed separately but the latter was asked by Chief Minister from Pattan to return due to being late. DGP’s cavalcade then returned to
from Parimpora. Srinagar
By the time Omar arrived in, alongwith IGP Kashmir S M Sahai, at 1620 hours, Ramzan had impressively controlled the situation. Chief Minister met the father and the mother of the youth killed and expressed condolences to the bereaved family on behalf of his Government as well as National Conference. He said it was a tragedy that one more young life had been extinguished. He assured the gathering that he would take up the matter “very seriously” with the Army and expressed hope that Manzoor’s sacrifice would end the chain of innumerable civilian killings in
A group of people from a distance kept shouting “ham kya chahte, Azadi” (we want freedom) but those in the village yelled: “az chhu maatam jabaja” (it’s a day of mourning everywhere) and “qatiloon kau giriftaar karo” (get the murderers arrested). Visibly shattered by the killing but unfazed Omar kept tweeting onb his BlackBerry while driving through crowded Sopore. Like BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in
on January 26th, Omar kept the world informed about his visit. He called the killing a great tragedy and generated a huge discussion on the social networking site Twitter. He stayed at his Jammu residence and arranged a high level meeting with GOC 15th Corps, Lt Gen Hasnain, in the forenoon tomorrow. Srinagar
“Yes, I am meeting the Army commanders tomorrow to make it unmistakably clear that killings like that of Handwara would have to ended for ever”, Omar told Early Times over telephone. He indicated that he would take more decisive initiatives with the political and Defence leadership in
to ensure that no more civilian deaths occurred in violation of SOP by Police or armed forces in Jammu & Kashmir. New Delhi