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Three Kashmiri youngsters shot by Indian police

29 March, 2017

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SRINAGAR: Three Kashmiri youngsters were shot dead on Tuesday during clashes with Indian police and paramilitary forces, sparking a wave of anguish in the region swept by a renewed wave of violence.

The killings occurred in Chadoora village, some 14 kilometres from Srinagar city, near a residential house where a local Hizbul Mujahideen member, Tawseef Magrey, was engaged by the occupation forces in an encounter at the crack of dawn on Tuesday.

As the day progressed and news spread, hundreds of young boys from adjoining areas converged at the encounter site and started throwing stones at the Indian troops who had laid siege to the house, apparently to help the trapped rebel escape.

According to reports, the swelling crowd soon threatened to move in. Witnesses said that Indian forces then resorted to indiscriminate bullet and pellet firing, sparking violent clashes in which three protesters, all young boys in their twenties, were shot dead.

"A rebel was killed in the encounter and a weapon was also recovered. An [Indian] army soldier also suffered injuries," Indian Army's spokesman Rajesh Kalra said.

Dr Sanjay Kapoor, a senior paramilitary officer, claimed that 43 of their troops and 20 policemen were injured in clashes.

The deceased youngsters were identified as Zahid Rashid, Saqib Ahmad and Ishfaq Ahmad.

The three are among the growing number of unarmed civilians perishing to bullets of government forces in Kashmir. The trend has gained footing in the valley after last year's killing of Burhan Wani.

At least three-dozen protesters were also injured, some of them critically, during the daylong clashes, official sources and witnesses said, adding that many of them were injured by pellets.

The Hurriyat Conference, meanwhile, has called for a state-wide shutdown today (Wednesday) in protest against the civilian killings.

Mehbooba Mufti, the state's embattled chief minister whose party is in a controversial alliance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, condemned the killings, saying peace should be given a chance.

"We know there are issues that need to be addressed and resolved but no one will be able to do anything at a point when violence becomes a norm. There is a need for restrain from all sides so that conducive atmosphere is created," she said, according to an official handout.

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