Violent protests over civilian deaths at the hands of government forces have shown that the issue has become a major challenge for the Governor’s administration in Jammu and Kashmir. Six civilian deaths, including that of a minor girl, have occurred in the past five days triggering the protests.
In the relatively calm frontier district of Kupwara in North Kashmir, the Army allegedly killed a civilian Khalid Gaffar Malik at Trehgam. His father Abdul Gaffar Malik is under shock as he was apprehending such an attack from the other side, with his three sons serving in the Army and J&K Police.
After massive protests by the local people, the Governor’s administration ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Police said that the Army fired on the civilian from a close range and he was killed on spot, as he was in front of his shop. Two of his brothers, Waseem Gaffar and Talib Gaffar Malik, are serving in the J&K Police, while another brother Asif Gaffar Malik is serving in the Territorial Army.
According to human rights groups and the police records, 111 civilians have been killed in the past 18 months in the Valley at different encounter sites and other incidents of protests.
Muhammad Yousuf Taragami, CPI(M) MLA from Kulgam, said that it was shocking that Governor’s administration has failed to curb the civilian killings and use of pellet guns on protesters in Kashmir. “There are hundreds of unexploded shells in the fields and villages of entire south Kashmir which the government forces have left while going for anti-militancy operations. Recently a minor was killed and four other children were injured in such incident when these children were playing with an unexploded shell,” Taragami said.
“The protests are now directed against the Central government, the government forces and the Raj Bhavan. There is a silent shift of anger from PDP to Raj Bhavan,” said Mehmood Bedar, a senior local journalist.
Governor N.N. Vohra recently held a detailed meeting with the top brass of Army officers and requested them to send a signal on the ground that civilian killings should be avoided at all cost. But on the ground, the signals have not reached yet and the killings of civilians are only fuelling more violence and unrest in the Valley.