One person lost his life after being hit by a security forces vehicle in Nowhatta, Srinagar, on Friday, 1 June.
Residents of Nowhatta said that a security forces vehicle drove wildly into a crowd of protesters in Srinagar, slamming into half a dozen people, crushing one man beneath its wheels, reported AP.
Two people were injured in the incident and hospitalised at the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS). One of them died late on Friday, a representative of the SKIMS told The Quint.
Kaiser Bhat (21), a resident of the Fatehkadal area of Srinagar, was injured when the security forces vehicle allegedly hit him, and another youth during the protests on 1 June, PTI reported.
After the death of the youth, clashes broke out between protesters and security forces on Saturday, 2 June in the old city in Srinagar.
Protesters pelted stones when security forces stopped Bhat’s funeral procession at Fatehkadal, a police official told PTI. The forces fired tear smoke shells and pellets to chase them away, with some protesters receiving minor injuries. Earlier on Saturday, the authorities had imposed a curfew in Nowhatta.
Officials Refute Residents’ Version of Events
In the meantime, officials have refuted the residents’ version of events that transpired on Friday, stating that the vehicle was surrounded by a crowd of angry young men, some of whom fell beneath the car when they tried to pull the soldiers out and lynch them.
"It was a situation created by the crowd. We showed extreme restraint," said Sanjay Sharma, a spokesman for the paramilitary force involved reportedly told AP.
AP reported a third version from a police officer. The jeep had strayed into a group of protestors and accidentally struck some of them, he said, and when the driver saw this, panicked and tried to tried to get out of there quickly.
J&K Police Register FIRs Against Srinagar CRPF and Protesters
In response to the incident, the J&K Police have registered 2 FIRs over the incident. The first FIR was registered against the driver of the CRPF vehicle under section 279, for rash driving, and 337 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), reported PTI.
The FIR against the unidentified protesters was under Section 307 (attempt to murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149, 152, 336 and 427 of the RPC.
"It was a mistake," said a police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to AP.
An AP photographer captured the horror in a series of photographs, though even he couldn't see and confirm with absolute certainty how everything transpired.
"Police and soldiers were standing at a safe distance from the crowd, avoiding confrontation. And then from nowhere this vehicle ran into the crowd," said resident Reyaz Ahmed to AP.
Separatists Detained, Put Under House Arrest
Following the youth's death, the separatists had given a strike call across Kashmir on Saturday, prompting shopkeepers and other business owners to down shutters, reported PTI.
Apart from Nowhatta, restriction under section 144 of the CrPC were also in force in six other police station areas of the city. The curbs were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.
The authorities also suspended mobile internet services in Srinagar and Budgam districts.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was detained from his residence in Srinagar, while moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest on Saturday.
‘Is This the New SOP?’ Asks Omar Abdullah
Several Twitter users shared the image of the vehicle running over the Kashmiri man. Former state CM Omar Abdullah too shared a tweet saying:
Abdullah’s tweet prompted a sharp reaction from Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who told reporters that some politicians find security forces soft targets and are quick to condemn them.
J&K Police: This Is ‘A Selective Picture’
In response to the media’s coverage of the incident, the Jammu & Kashmir Police said that the picture did not represent the ‘whole scene’. The state police tweeted that the photograph was simply ‘a selective picture’ and not a ‘chain of pictures presenting the whole scene.’
Multiple sources also shared a video, allegedly, of the incident, which shows protesters attacking the vehicle and pelting stones at it.
(With inputs from Associated Press and PTI)