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Protest Erupts Outside Rajouri Army Camp After 2 Civilians Shot Dead

Anees Zargar |
While the Army blamed unidentified militants for the killings, locals accused it of shooting them dead.

File Photo.

Srinagar: A massive protest erupted in the Rajouri district of Jammu division after two civilians were shot dead and a third was injured outside a military camp on Friday morning. While the Army blamed “unidentified terrorists” for the killings, locals blamed it for the incident and demanded action against the killers.

The deceased were identified as Kamal Kishore and Surinder Kumar, both natives of Phalyana village, while the injured, Anil Kumar, is a resident of Uttarakhand.

According to eyewitnesses, Kishore and Kumar were shot dead on their way to the camp, where they manage a canteen, outside the Alpha Gate, along the Jammu-Rajouri Highway, around 6 am. “Their bodies were lying in a pool of blood in the middle of the road,” a local alleged.

A senior district police officer said that locals alleged that a sentry opened fire in a case of mistaken identity.

Soon after the incident, scores of locals and families of the deceased started protesting and pelting the camp with stones.  Several women, including from the families of the deceased, were seen wailing around the bodies while accusing the Army of “murder”. The protesters blocked the highway and demanded action against the shooters.

The Army, however, refuted the allegations. “In an early morning firing incident by unidentified terrorists at Rajauri near Military Hospital, there has been fatal casualty of two individuals. The Police, security forces and civil administration officials are on the site,” the official Twitter account of 16 Corps tweeted.

The DIG Rajouri-Poonch range and DC Rajouri were present at the site and an investigation is under way, the 16 Corps tweeted further.

According to a video posted by the website of the English daily Greater Kashmir, DIG Haseeb Mughal informed the media that the police have filed an FIR and there will be a “thorough probe” into the incident. He also informed that the bodies were finally taken for medico-legal formalities. “We assure that there will be a fair probe into the matter,” Mughal said. 

The protesters alleged that the duo were targeted by the Army check post. “They have been deliberately murdered. The Army did not get time. Otherwise, it would have placed arms beside their bodies and declared them militants,” an ex-serviceman told reporters.

Another protester Jitendra Kumar demanded that the families of the deceased should be compensated for their “unbearable” loss. “Both the families should be provided Rs 50 lakh each as relief and their wives should be provided with a job to support their families. We will continue to protest unless these demands are met and justice is done,” he said.

The demonstrators also argued that if the Army had sensed any suspicious movement, it could have either warned the two persons or even targeted their lower bodies but one was shot in the head and the other near his heart. “It clearly shows how standard procedures were violated and the Army lacks training,” another protester said.  

The killings were widely condemned by political parties, who demanded an inquiry. “Tragic that two innocent lives were lost allegedly due to firing by the army. An impartial probe must be carried out to ensure that culprits are punished & justice is served,” PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.

CPI(M) central committee member and former J&K Assembly member MY Tarigami tweeted: “Condemning in no uncertain terms the tragic killing of two unarmed civilians outside an army camp in Rajouri. A credible probe must be conducted into the unfortunate incident to bring the culprits to book.”

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