Anger has erupted in Jammu and Kashmir after Indian paramilitary forces, the CRPF, crushed three Kashmiri civilians under their vehicle in Srinagar on Friday. All three have reportedly sustained serious injuries while the condition of one of them is described to be critical.
Local residents said that an armoured vehicle of CRPF drove wildly into a crowd of anti-India protesters in Sringar slamming into a half-dozen people and crushing one man beneath its wheels, injuring him critically. However, the CRPF has rejected the allegations saying that the forces showed ‘extreme restraint.’
“It was a situation created by the crowd. We showed extreme restraint,” Sanjay Sharma, a spokesman for the paramilitary force, was quoted by Associated Press.
One of the youth has been identified as Mohammad Younis. “When we received him at SKIMS hospital, he is intubated. We are monitoring his condition but he is very critical,” an official from the hospital told Free Press Kashmir.
The photo taken by an AP photographer has now gone viral on social media platforms eliciting angry reactions from commentators, journalists and civil rights groups.
Journalist Shujaat Bukhari wrote, “These pictures from #Srinagar downtown are very disturbing. This is horrible way to quell a protest. Government and #CRPF must explain. Is it the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Hope they survive. Pic courtesy #KashmirJournalistsHub.”
These pictures from #Srinagar downtown are very disturbing. This is horrible way to quell a protest. Government and #CRPF must explain. Is it the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Hope they survive. Pic courtesy #KashmirJournalistsHub pic.twitter.com/WrZ0ENgZbX
— Shujaat Bukhari (@bukharishujaat) June 1, 2018
Activist Shehla Rashid wrote, “Shameful! Running people over seems to be the latest anti-insurgency measure in J&K. This will certainly win hearts.”
Meanwhile a local police officer said that the vehicle had accidentally strayed into an area crowded with protesters before it struck some people when the driver realised what had happened and tried to get quickly away.
“It was a mistake,” the police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to comment, was quoted by news agency AP.
Hundreds of people had gathered to stage a peaceful protest after their weekly Friday congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. Witnesses said that as the protest was going on, a speedy CRPF vehicle hit two youth, who were part of the protest.
Last month, the Centre’s BJP government had announced a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir Valley on the first day of Ramzan.