THE DEATH of a 24-year-old youth, Mansoor Ahmad Lone, triggered protests in Sopore on Wednesday, with the villagers accusing the Army of killing him in custody.
Lone, a resident of Hardushiva village in Sopore, reportedly went missing on Tuesday, after clashes between protesters and Army personnel following Eid prayers in the village. His body was reportedly recovered from a stone quarry on Wednesday morning.
“A body was recovered from the stone quarry. The people allege that he was picked up by the Army. The Army says they did not detain him,” said Sopore SP Harmeet Singh. “The villagers buried the body before our team of doctors arrived. We have registered an FIR and are investigating the case,” he said.
Colonel Arun, GS IW, Northern Command, said: “We did not pick him up… there is no involvement of the Army in this”.
Villagers said Lone participated in the protests after Eid prayers on Tuesday. “When the Army chased them… he ran towards the stone quarry where he worked,” said a villager. “After some time, an Army vehicle was parked outside the quarry. They picked someone up, but we couldn’t see who it was”.
When Lone didn’t return home in the evening, his family and neighbours started to look for him. The villagers said they went to the local Army camp, but the officials denied that he had been detained.
“Early in the morning, we went to the quarry to see if he was there. We found his cap and mask that he had used during the protests. There was blood, but no body,” said another villager. “A few hours later, another group of villagers found the body inside the stone quarry. How could this happen? They killed him in custody and left the body in the quarry,” he said.
According to the villagers, Army officials had barred them from offering Eid prayers at the local Eidgah, which is near the Army camp.
“The village elders mediated, and they allowed us to offer prayers in the morning,” said a villager. “After the prayers, there were protests and some youths threw stones at the Army camp. After that, Lone went missing”.
The killing triggered protests in Hardushiva and the surrounding villages on Wednesday.