Handwara firings… Another test for CM Mehbooba Mufti

RSTV Bureau
Srinagar: Angry youths throw stones on police during clashes which erupted after the killing of two youth allegedly in Army firing following the molestation bid by a Jawan at Handwara in Kupwara district of north Kashmir,at Downtown Srinagar on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Photo - PTI

Srinagar: Angry youths throw stones on police during clashes which erupted after the killing of two youth allegedly in Army firing following the molestation bid by a Jawan at Handwara in Kupwara district of north Kashmir,at Downtown Srinagar on Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Valley remains tense with curfew-like restrictions continuing for the second day in parts of Kashmir. In a bid to stave off any law and order trouble, the authorities on Friday suspended mobile internet services in some areas. Srinagar and Kupwara are reeling in a fragile state following the killing of four persons in a firing by security personnel during violent protests since Tuesday.

According to the state police authorities, strict restrictions have been imposed in Kupwara town, Kralgund, Handwara, Magam and Langate areas in north Kashmir. Restrictions also continue in six police station areas of Srinagar city where sporadic incidents of stone-pelting were reported on Thursday.

Early on Friday, a decision to suspend mobile internet services was taken to curb the menace of rumour mongering in the area.

The law and order trouble began on Tuesday after protests erupted in Handwara town of Kupwara district over the allegations that one girl student was molested by soldiers posted in an army picket in the town.

Two youth – Iqbal Ahmad and Naeem Bhatt, a promising cricketer, were killed when security forces, including J&K Police, fired upon the protestors allegedly in retaliation to the stone pelting by the protestors, who were in large numbers.

While one 70-year-old woman, Raja Begum, who received severe wounds in the firing succumbed to her injuries on Wednesday, another youth was killed in Drugmulla area of Kupwara during protests against the Handwara incident on Thursday.

Initiating an enquiry into the whole incident, the army on Thursday released a video of the victim girl who denied that she was molested by any security personnel. The identity of the girl has been kept under protection.

The incident is now becoming another test for incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who took over on 4th April, after controversy at NIT Srinagar last week. Strongly condemning the incident, Ms Mufti has assured “exemplary” punishment to those responsible for the firing, besides taking up the issue with Union Defense minister Manohar Parikkar.

“I spoke to Defence Minister. He assured me that a probe will be initiated and the culprits will be punished… At the same time the family will be compensated. Such incidents should not happen in the future,” she said on Thursday.

On the other hand, Opposition National Conference leader and former CM Omar Abdullah strongly criticised Mehbooba Mufti over the handling of situation.

“3 people died as a result of firing by security forces and what does the J&K CM do? She continues her self-promoting tour of Delhi,” Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter, adding further that “This is the same person who until a year ago would rush anywhere in the valley to shed contrived tears at the slightest provocation”.

Condemning the firing by security forces, Congress party has demanded a probe into the killing of two youths.

“Expressing deep shock and grief over loss of two precious lives in Handwara, JPCC President G A Mir has strongly condemned the firing by army personnel,” a PCC spokesman said.

(With inputs from the Agencies)