Kupwara: The J&K government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the recent killing of a 23-year-old Asif Iqbal Bhat who was reportedly shot in the head as soon as he stepped out of his house in Thindipora after receiving a phone call to pick the customer who was stuck about 5kms from the area since public transport was unavailable.
Asif Iqbal Bhat, a taxi-driver replied he cannot come to pick the caller who was stuck in an area with no public transport’ availability but agreed to go when his father Mohammad Iqbal Bhat asked him to attend the caller. But as soon as he stepped out he was shot in the head which the Army claims he was killed in the crossfire.
The family now alleges he was reportedly killed without a warning as soon Asif stepped out.
Asif’s younger brother reacting to Army’s response said, “They (Army) are lying.”
“He was shot just outside our home. How could they have suspected him of being a militant?” “As soon as he stepped out, we heard gunshots. When my father went out, they (soldiers) fired towards our house,” adding, “ my father found him on the ground, bleeding from his head.”
Speaking of the killing Defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said, “Based on information of presence of militants in Thindipora village, Army placed ambushes to maintain surveillance over the area on night of 16/17 December,” and that Asif was killed in the crossfire.
“At around 2255 hours, (an) ambush party observed suspicious movement of three persons near a nallah in Thindipora village. The individuals were challenged by the troops. However, they didn’t respond. Thereafter, terrorists opened fire towards Army ambush, which was retaliated to. In the crossfire, one person, later identified as Asif Iqbal Bhat, was killed due to gunshot wound. It is learnt that he was a Sumo taxi driver. Investigations are in progress.”
Mohammad Umar, a neighbor of Asif, recalling the firing said, “There were gunshots and seconds later I heard his (Asif’s) father wailing.”
Asif was soon then rushed to a health centre at Kralpora, 5 km away from Thindipora but reportedly died after being administered first aid and was on his way to Sopore for further treatment.
Asif was the eldest of the three brothers and two sisters in the family. Asif’s father is a forest guard while his mother is a homemaker.
Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, Khalid Jehangir told The Indian Express that the state government has registered an FIR and ordered a magisterial inquiry. “We have ordered a probe into the killing,” he said.
“The Additional Commissioner Revenue has been asked to probe the incident and submit the report within 21 days,” he added.
J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti has asked the district administration to “speed up the probe” after the people in the region and the adjoining areas of Thindipura protested.
Opposition National Conference said an “un-investigated claim of a young life lost in ‘cross-firing’ shouldn’t be used to brush the incident under the carpet”.