In the Kralpora area of Kupwara in north Kashmir, a sumo driver was shot dead late night on 16th December. The driver, Asif Iqbal Bhat, died when Army opened fire, in what they claimed was a case of ‘mistaken identity’.
According to the Army, they had laid an ambush in Thandipora village after receiving the receiving inputs about the movement of militants.
SSP Kupwara Shamsher Hussain said that “As per army authorities’ version, soldiers had laid an ambush in the area. The sumo driver was asked to stop but he didn’t and was then shot by them.”He also added that “this is very unfortunate and regrettable. We will hold an enquiry into the matter and whosoever is guilty would be punished.”
However the locals claim he was shot by the army just few yards from his house as he was about to start the engine to ferry a patient to a hospital. Greater Kashmir, and Kashmir Reader reported quoting the locals and the family of Asif Iqbal said“as he came few yards from his house, the army fired at him, leaving him in pool of blood. He succumbed en route to Srinagar at Sopore.”
Neighbours said that Asif received a phone call from someone from a nearby village, urging him to come urgently as a patient needed to be rushed to a hospital. They alleged that Asif had barely started his sumo and the army which had laid an ambush around the area, opened fire at him. The neighbours said they could hear gun shots just after Asif started his Sumo.
Soon after the incidence, a large number of men, women and children staged a protest blaming army for killing Asif without any provocation, and without asking for any identification. They said that the army asks them to use torches in the night. Asif, who was even carrying a lit torch was shot dead without any reason.
The authorities suspended all internet services in Kupwara district on Saturday night which remained suspended even on Sunday.
According to reports, district magistrate (DM) of Kupwara said he has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killing.
Since the anti government protests that rocked the state in 2016, around 160 civilians have been killed by the security forces. Around fifty of them were killed in 2017 after Indian security forces launched "Operation All Out” to neutralise militants.