A civilian was killed and another injured in firing by Army personnel at Jammu and Kashmir’s Sumbad village in Ramban district during the wee hours of Sunday.
Identifying the deceased as Mohammad Rafi, 26, of Duksar and the injured as Shakeel Ahmed, 22, of adjoining Dhalwa area in Gool tehsil, nearly 40 km from Ramban, police said they have registered an FIR on charges of murder and attempt to murder in the matter. However, the accused are yet to be named as the matter is under investigation, police added.
Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Devender Anand said they had launched an operation “based on specific intelligence inputs in Kohli area of Gool tehsil”. “At 3.45 am, the Army patrol saw some suspicious activity. The suspected individuals were challenged by the Army as per Standing Operating Procedure,” Anand said, but the former “opened fire” and they had to “retaliate”. Further details were being ascertained, the spokesperson said.
Sources said Army personnel are deployed in the area as a 13.5 km-long rail tunnel is under construction there.
Ramban SSP Mohan Lal said both the deceased and injured were “simple farmers” with “no militant links”. “Like other civilians living in the hills who move to highland pastures along with their cattle during summer, they too were on way to their pasture. Enroute, they stayed at the house of a relative for the night as usual.”
According to the SSP, early morning, they started preparing to resume their onward journey so as to reach their pasture on time. However, when they were busy giving fodder and water to the cattle, security forces personnel opened fire. Ahmed was shot inside the house, Mohan Lal said.
Ahmed, who is in hospital but out of danger, said they were going in after giving fodder to the cattle when Army personnel came from behind and opened fire at them. They shot Rafi dead after entering the room, he said.
The shootout led to tension in Gool-Sangaldan area, with people refusing to bury Rafi’s body. Describing the killing as murder, they raised slogans against Rashtriya Rifles and demanded immediate arrest of the accused.
Senior civil and police officers who rushed to the spot assured agitators of action in the matter. Later, the body was buried after police registered a murder case against the security forces.