Two civilians were killed and two were injured when troops of 53 Rashtriya Rifles allegedly opened fire at their car at Chitergam village in Pulwama district of J&K on Monday evening.
The Army said it regretted the killings and ordered an inquiry, while the police has registered a case against the Army.
Later, protests broke out in Nowgam village, from where both the victims hailed. Protesters pelted stones and raised anti-India slogans, forcing the police to use tear smoke shells to disperse them.
Official sources said that four youths, all in their 20s, were travelling in a Maruti car when the patrol party allegedly opened fire because the car didn’t stop at a few check points. The youths were taken to the Army Base Hospital after they were found to be civilians. While two of them, Faizal and Mehraj, succumbed on the way, the other two are recovering in the ICU.
Inspector General (Kashmir) Abdul Gani Mir told The Indian Express that a case has been registered against the Army. “This is an unfortunate incident… The law will take its course.”
A Defence Ministry spokesperson said that three checkposts were set up on the Nowgam-Pulwama road as specific intelligence reports indicated the movement of militants in a Maruti 800 there.
“At approximately 5 pm, a white Maruti 800 approached the first check point where the personnel tried to stop it, but the car did not stop. At the second point, too, the car was asked to stop but it did not. At the third check point, the vehicle tried to barge through the check point, resulting in the incident,” the spokesperson said.
The ruling NC has condemned the killings and asked the Election Commission to order an inquiry. “The EC should order a time-bound inquiry or authorise the state government to do so,” NC general secretary and Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar said.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani too condemned the killings.