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Kashmir: Custodial killing sparks row
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | November 17, 2007 22:36 IST
Life in south Kashmir's Kulgam district was marred on Saturday by protests over the alleged custodial killing of a village youngster by the troops of the Rashtriya Rifles.
Hundreds of protesters in Yari Teng village of Kulgam district marched to the nearby Damhal Hanjipora town and blocked the road there alleging that Riyaz Ahmad Sofi, 25, a baker had been killed in custody by the troops of Rashtriya Rifles in the area.
Nine persons including seven civilians and two cops were wounded in police tear smoke shelling and baton charge to quell the agitated protestors, who made an attempt to torch the local police station.
Relatives and protesters said Sofi had moved out of his home along with two of his brothers when they were taken into a nearby area by the troops who later allegedly shot dead Sofi early on Saturday morning.
Defence spokesman Lt. Col. A K Mathur said Sofi had been killed in a cross firing incident between the troops and the militants. Col Mathur, however, said the army is also investigating the incident.
As protesters contested the army version, senior district officers said a case of murder had been registered against some jawans of the 8 Rashtriya Rifles in the Damhal Hanjipora police station.
Meanwhile, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party has strongly condemned the killing of the youth at Damhal, Hanjipora.
In a statement issued here today, PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti expressed "grief and anguish over the murder of the baker, Riyaz Ahmad".
Reiterating the party's demand for initiating the process of cutting the troop strength from the civilian areas and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Mehbooba Mufti said the "time has come, when instead of relying on the length of the gun and strength of the bullet, the government must genuinely engage with the people's aspirations to work for the lasting peace in the state."