Abdullah visits bereaved family, condoles youth’s death (Second Lead)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

SRINAGAR - Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday visited the family of the youth killed in an army ambush and told them he shared their grief.

Abdullah flew to Handwara despite the bad weather to condole the bereaved family.

The chief minister said an FIR has already been registered by the police in the unfortunate incident and a magisterial probe has also been ordered.

The magisterial enquiry will be completed within a fortnight, Abdullah said.

He also asked the bereaved family not to fall prey to the designs of those who could exploit the incident for political gains.

The chief minister condemned the killing of the youth in the army ambush as “another needless death in a bloody Kashmir” that could have been avoided if a “suggestion” he made had been implemented.

Writing on micro-blogging site Twitter, Abdullah posted: “How can one not condemn the death of 21-year-old Manzoor at the hands of the army late last night? Another needless death in a bloody Kashmir.”

Manzoor Ahmad Magray (24) a resident of Chogal village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, some 70 km from here, was killed at around 10.30 p.m. Friday when he walked into an ambush laid by the army for separatist guerrillas, police said.

Immediately after hearing about the incident Abdullah said in his Twitter message he was trying to understand the circumstances in which the man was killed, but there were “not enough answers”.

“Have been trying to understand the circumstances. Lots of questions, but not enough answers at the moment,” he wrote.

Abdullah said a suggestion made by him at the Unified Command, comprising the chief minister, home minister and army, police and security officers, could have prevented the incident, and the knowledge of that was making him upset.

“I am even more upset with the knowledge that if a suggestion of mine, made in the Unified Command, could have avoided this incident,” he posted.

The army has expressed regret over the killing.

“The death of the civilian is regrettable, but we followed the rules of engagement,” an army officer said.

Police maintained that the army laid an ambush on specific information about the presence of guerrillas in the area.

“Unfortunately, the villager walked into the ambush, and noticing suspicious movement, the troops opened fire resulting in his death,” said a police officer.

The deceased worked for the Border Roads Organisation and his father is an activist of the ruling National Conference.

Earlier Saturday, hundreds of villagers blocked the road near Chogal village squatting on the road with the dead body of the slain villager.

After assurances from the authorities, the relatives agreed to bury Magray’s body.

While the army said the civilian had walked into the ambush, the relatives of the slain youth alleged that he was taken out of his home by security men, interrogated and then shot.

A press release issued by the army here regretted the civilian’s death saying: At approximately 22.30 hours troops detected suspicious movement of two persons coming towards the ambush.

In accordance with standard operating procedure, troops challenged the individuals to surrender. Both the individuals instead attempted to run away upon which the troops opened firing, resulting in fatal injuries to Manzoor Ahmad Magray.

We deeply and sincerely express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family on this incident.

The army, although strictly adhering to the challenging procedures as per the rules of engagement, regrets the loss, more so as the year has been declared by the army as the Year of Kashmiri Awam, the statement said.

As many as 110 people had lost their lives in clashes between the security forces and the mobs in 2010 in the summer unrest that was triggered after a schoolboy was hit and killed by a teargas shell fired by the police in the old city area of Srinagar.

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