Civilian Killings Amid Intense Protests Mar Srinagar Bypolls
Six people were killed in firing by security forces as election day violence marred the bypolls for Srinagar seat.
Women were huddled around Saleema Jan, whose teenager son, died after he was fired at by security forces in Dalwan village, where mounds of cow dung littered the muddy lanes. Her teeth were clenched and she bit her lips as she screamed in the yard of her house, which was filled with men and women mourning over the death.
Blood spots were scrubbed by people near the government high school, where Saleema’s son, Mohammad Abbas, 14, and another 12-year-old boy, Faizan Fayaz, were killed. Both had received bullets and tear gas in the face and died instantly. But the security forces have said that they were killed during an action on stone pelters, who were trying to barge into the polling station and damage the EVMs.
In the elections that were held on Srinagar parliamentary seat on Sunday lowest ever polling percentage of 6.5 percent was registered and the day was marked with intense clashes between forces and youth in which 6 civilians lost their lives.
Special Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), SN Srivastava, said that 6 people were killed as forces resisted the bid by people to barge into polling stations and attack the staff.
At Saleema’s house, people however rebutted that the youth were pelting stones. After the killing of two youth in Dalwan, people boycotted the elections and the mosques resonated with the pro-freedom slogans. Few blocks away from Saleema’s house, at the multi-storey house of Fayaz Ahmad Dar, people mourned the death of his son Faizan.
“I had advised my son not to go out as heavy number of police and paramilitary force personnel were deployed outside near the polling station. We were busy with the veterinary doctor who was attending our cattle, when my son moved out and within few minutes we received his body drenched in blood. He died while we shifted him to the hospital at Pakherpora,” he said.
Local residents said that the killings were targeted. “It was a target firing as stone pelting didn’t take place. Both the boys were playing near the government high school, which was a polling station, where they were fired and killed,’’ said a resident, Hilal Ahmad Dar.
The killings have evoked strong resentment from both the mainstream and separatist leaders. While the separatist Hurriyat Conference has given the two day shut down call, NC and Congress blamed PDP-BJP dispensation for the killing.
Congress state president, GA Mir, said that the PDP was to be held squarely responsible for the killings. “In view of the loss of precious lives today during the polling I have cancelled the public meetings that were scheduled to be held tomorrow at Qazigund and Verinag. I can’t risk the lives of my own people,” he said.
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has expressed deep anguish over the loss of lives during Sunday’s polling in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency. In a statement, the Chief Minister said she is distressed to know that many of those killed were young boys who were yet to understand the intricacies of the issues.
“I have been reiterating time and again that peaceful means and not violence are the only way ahead for getting the state out of the present difficulties. This is the time people of all shades of opinion in the state should come together and help in stopping this cycle of senseless violence and bloodshed which unfortunately has plagued Jammu and Kashmir for three decades now and left behind a trail of human tragedies.” she said.
At Dalwan, people protested after the killings and the anger was visible. Roads were lined with posters of the HM militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani, and the people raised pro-freedom and anti-government slogans.
(The writer is a journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir. He can be reached at @naseemishfaq1)
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