Srinagar: A young man was Wednesday shot dead by CRPF troopers in Eidgah area of the downtown here, triggering massive anti-India and pro-freedom demonstrations.
Eyewitnesses said 37-year-old Mohammad Altaf Wani, son of Abdul Ahad Wani, and his uncle Abdur Rehman Deva were on their way to Zoonimar when a speedy CRPF vehicle coming from Safa Kadal opened fired. Though Deva had a narrow escape, Altaf received gunshots in the chest and collapsed on road. He was removed to the SKIMS, Soura, where doctors declared him brought dead.
Altaf, a shawl weaver, was the youngest of the five siblings, including three sisters. He is survived by an aged father, a young wife, and four small daughters. Earlier in January, Altaf’s 6-month-old baby boy had passed away.
“The troopers had even resorted to firing at Noorbagh and Seki Dafar areas of the downtown. It seems they wanted to shoot passersby to take revenge for the killings of their colleagues in a Fidayeen attack in Bemina,” said Bashir Ahmad, one of the witnesses to Altaf’s killing.
Ghulam Nabi, president Masjid Committee Saidpora (where Altaf lived) told Kashmir Reader that the area was peaceful and no stone pelting or protests were going on when the CRPF vehicle passed through the area and opened indiscriminate fire.
“This is a coldblooded murder. Police is trying to shield the CRPF men who murdered Altaf. There were no stone pelting protests in the area. The area was calm. Even some shops were open and skeletal transport was plying on the road,” he added.
When the body of Altaf was brought to Saidapora, hundreds of men, women and children took to streets and staged pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. They carried Altaf’s body in a procession to the nearby Martyrs Graveyard Eidgah. Amidst chants and sobs, Altaf was laid to rest.
Later, violent clashes broke out between protesters and forces in many localities of downtown. The forces, eyewitnesses said, lobbed teargas canisters after failing to quell angry protesters with batons. The clashes were going on when the last report came in.
Meanwhile, police sources told Kashmir Reader that the troopers who fired at Altaf belonged to the CRPF’s 73 battalion whose personnel had come under militant attack earlier in the day in Bemina in which five troopers were killed.
Inspector General CRPF, VS Yadav said that his men were on way to the SKIMS to donate blood to their colleagues who had been critically injured in Bemina shootout. “As the party reached Saidapora, people surrounded it and pelted stones on the men. To save themselves from the wrath of the people, our men were compelled to resort to firing,” he added.
Altaf is the second civilian to die in forces firing in the last eight days. On Tuesday last, soldiers of Army’s 46 RR shot dead 27-year-old Tahir Ahmad Sofi in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district triggering Valley wide protests.
Besides Altaf, five people have died in the Valley in forces action and stone-pelting incident since the hanging of Afzal Guru on February 9.