Youth’s death in Baramulla firing triggers tension

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Srinagar: The death of a 25-year-old youth in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district in a firing incident late Friday evening has triggered tensions in the area. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday termed the incident unfortunate.

Ashiq Hussain Rather, 25, died in a firing incident in Laisar (Rafiabad) village of Baramulla district when 32 Rashtriya Rifles troops laid a cordon around the village following a tip-off about the presence of separatist guerrillas in the village.

Talking to media persons after his arrival here Omar said, “It has been reported to me that a youth died in a firing incident in Rafiabad yesterday.

“We have to find out the exact circumstances that led to the youth’s death. It has to be found out whether the standard operating procedure (SOP) was followed by the troops during the operation in the area.

“I have sent my MOS (minister of state) home and the DGP to visit the place. I would not be able to confirm right now whether I would be going to the village today or not.

“I would definitely like to go and visit the bereaved family, it has to be ensured that my visit does not heighten the tensions in the area.”

A senior police officer said the youth had died due an accidental shot fired by one of the soldiers during the cordon operation.

“According to the Rashtriya Rifles, it was an accidental shot which killed the youth during yesterday’s cordon and search operation in the village. We are investigating the unfortunate incident,” Syed Imtiyaz Hussain, Superintendent of Police (Sopore) told IANS.

Tensions are running high in the area with locals demanding those responsible for the innocent youth’s death be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Junior Minister (Home), Nasir Aslam Wani and director general of police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda reached the village to take stock of the situation.

Omar has been relentlessly pursuing the cause for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which gives sweeping powers to the Army and other central security forces in areas which have been declared as disturbed in the state because of the over 20-year old separatist insurgency here.