//No burial till justice

No burial till justice

Srinagar, Feb. 23: Villagers have refused to bury the bodies of four youths killed yesterday while they were playing cricket at Dudipora, 87 km from here, till the soldiers who allegedly shot them dead are arrested.

In the north Kashmir village in Kupwara, there are no takers for the official version that the four died in an encounter between Rashtriya Rifles jawans and militants.

“Security forces opened unprovoked fire on boys who were playing cricket in a field,” 60-year-old Abdul Aziz, a resident, said.

Five to six thousand villagers today carried the bodies — wrapped in white cloth — to Kulangam Chowk, 8 km away, and placed them on a bed on the road. They blocked the Srinagar-Kupwara highway, demanding a judicial probe and arrest of the killers.

An army statement said two of the dead were targeted by militants. “Terrorists specifically targeted Samad Mir, a known worker of (militant group) Lashkar-e-Toiba … along with Shaikh Alam presuming that these two would provide information to the army about the location of the hiding terrorists,” the statement said. It said the other two boys were killed in an exchange of fire.

But Ghulam Hassan Mir, father of 23-year-old Abdul Samad Mir, said: “My son was a labourer and my entire family lived by whatever little he and I made….

“Yesterday, I was out of my house and my son was playing with other youths in the playground. I heard shots and reached home enquiring about my son. My wife was shaking with fear. She feared the worst as news had spread in the village that the army had fired at cricket-playing children.”

Tear rolling downs his cheeks, Hassan said: “I soon learnt that my son was no more.”

Hassan denied that Samad worked for militants. “He was a young man with hardly any time to waste on activities other than earning an honest day’s meal.”

Chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has ordered a magisterial inquiry and the army an internal one but the villagers have no faith the guilty would be punished