Srinagar: Two civilian killings in the past few days at the hands of police and security forces in Kashmir have raised a question mark on the claims of officials that they were killed in “crossfire”. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has already said that he will not tolerate any police excess and has assured justice to such families.

On wee hours of Wednesday, during a cordon operation in the Firdousabad locality of Batmaloo, a woman was coming to her baker shop along with her son and got killed when security forces opened indiscriminate fire. Police have refuted the family’s claim and said that she was killed in a crossfire.

Police spokesman in Srinagar said that the deceased woman Kousar Reyaz (45) was killed in a “crossfire”. Aqib Reyaz, the son of the deceased woman, told the media that his mother was killed without any provocation and they were not within the cordon of encounter in which three terrorists were later on. His other family members claimed that Kousar Riyaz was killed by the security forces when the encounter was over and when they were coming out of the area.

This incident has broken the lull in the Srinagar area of Batmaloo as massive protests were held by the locals, including women, forcing the police to use tear smoke and batons to disperse them. The government has reportedly ordered magisterial probe into the killing of the woman and into the entire gunfight after many eyewitnesses on social media refuted official claims about the killing of the woman.

Also, there is a lot of anger in North Kashmir and all political leaders have urged for a time-bound probe into the alleged custodial killing of a young boy from the Tujar Sharief area of Sopore. Due to widespread protests by people, civil society and politicians, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir range Vijay Kumar told the media that they have asked Deputy Commissioner Baramulla to order a probe into this killing.

Police have maintained that the youth, identified as Irfan Ahmed Dar, fled from custody and later his body was found. However, his brother and other family members told visiting media persons that he was killed in custody and was not involved in any terrorist activity. However, IGP Kumar said in the press conference that they recovered a hand grenade from Irfan and maintained that he tried to flee from police custody.

Protests swelled in the native village of Irfan Ahmad Dar, a shopkeeper in his area, when police refused to hand over the body to his family, saying a gathering on his funeral “could have increased the scope of Covid-19 transmission”. “Had we handed over the body to the family, there was a possibility that thousands would attend his funeral. You can’t imagine how this can spread the infection,” IGP Kumar told reporters here.

Waheed Ahmad Dar, his brother who was also arrested by police on Tuesday and later released, told reporters that his brother was killed in custody and it was callous on the part of the government not to allow the family even to see his face. Sajad Gani Lone, who is from North Kashmir, tweeted about the alleged custodial killing and said, “Sopore incident just doesn’t add up. They have done a bad job even at inventing a story. The guilty need to be punished.”