Srinagar/Dec,17: Army on Sunday said that a driver was killed in cross-fire in Thandipora village of frontier district Kupwara late Saturday night. Police has lodged an FIR and investigations have been initiated.
Asif Iqbal Bhat, son of Muhammad Iqbal was seriously injured after being hit by a bullet in Thandipora in Kralpora area of the district. “He was shifted to Sub District Hospital Kralpora for treatment where from he was referred to Srinagar Hospital for further treatment where he succumbed to his injuries,” said a police spokesman.
“Kupwara police has lodged an FIR in Police Station Kralpora and investigation has been started. Police and civil administration will provide all help to the bereaved family,” he said. “After completion of medico-legal formalities, the body of the deceased has been handed over to his legal heirs for last rites.”
However, a Srinagar-based defence spokesman said the driver was killed in cross-fire. He said that army had laid an ambush in the village late Saturday night after information about the presence of militants in Thindpura village.”At around 2255 hours, ambush party observed suspicious movement of three persons near nallah in Thindpura village. The individuals were challenged by troops, however, they did not respond,” said the spokesman.
Thereafter, he said, militants opened fire towards army ambush party, which was retaliated to. “In the crossfire, one person, later identified as Asif Iqbal Bhat, s/o Mohd Iqbal Bhat, resident of Thindpura was killed due to Gunshot wound. It is learnt that he was a sumo taxi driver,” he said. The spokesman said that investigations are in progress. Earlier, SSP Kupwara Shamsher Hussain, according to reports, said that the killing of the driver was a case of “mistaken identity”.
“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 was quoted as saying. “This is very unfortunate and regrettable. We will hold an enquiry into the matter and whosoever is guilty would be punished.”
The killing has triggered massive clashes in the area with people demanding that a murder case be registered against the army. Reports said that authorities have sealed all the entry points to prevent people from marching towards Kralpora area. They said that forces lobbed scores of teargas shells to disperse the protesters.
Meanwhile, MLA Langate Er Rasheed was detained at Kralpora police station after he led a march against the killing of the driver. Reacting to the killing, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that the “poor taxi driver was killed by the army while taking an ailing patient to a hospital.
“Asif Iqbal a poor taxi driver from Kupwara killed in Cold Blood by Army while taking an Ailing patient to hospital & then labelled as a case of “mistaken identity” by the killers! How long will R (our) blood be spilled mercilessly with impunity? we r (are) not even allowed toProtest such barbarism!” he tweeted.