Shopian Killings Aftermath: Police Issues ‘Halt When Signalled’ Advisory For Drivers

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Srinagar—Apparently seeking to avoid Shopian-like tragedies in the future, the J&K police has issued an advisory for motorists and drivers asking them to halt when signalled by forces personnel to stop, particularly at night.

Issued after the Shopian killings, the advisory comes in the backdrop of the forces’ area dominance exercises in which nocturnal patrol parties and checkpoints are deployed on important highways and routes in rural areas.

The army’s assertion that the four civilian youth killed in the Pahnoo area of Shopian last Sunday were accompanying militants who had opened fire on a mobile vehicle checking point (MVCP) and were over ground workers (OGWs) for militants, has been widely questioned, and strongly contested by the families of the slain youth, who have accused the army of killing the four civilians in cold blood.

Terming the deployment of patrol parties and checking points as a “major inconvenience” the police has said that the measures were “inevitable” to ensure “overall security,” media reports said.

“In order to ensure the overall security of the area, police and security forces have established checking points / naka points/ mobile vehicle checking points in various areas on main roads and peripheral roads in the district. We understand it’s a major inconvenience but its –inevitable- to ensure the safety and security of public,’’ reads the message posted on various social networking sites by Baramulla Police soon after the killing of four civilians.

“Please don’t jump these checking points and feel free to contact officers,’’ the message further reads.

In December last year, protests erupted in north Kashmir’s Kupwara area when a cab driver was shot and killed by the army when carrying a patient from the Batpora village.

The villagers had accused the army of opening fire on the vehicle without any warning or provocation.

According to sources, other police districts too have been asked to make people aware of the checking points and issue an advisory to avoid any civilian killing in future.

With regard to the Shopian killings, the army has said that the two vehicles involved didn’t stop at the checking point set up by the army when they were asked to stop, and that the patrol was fired upon from both vehicles.

According to a senior police officer quoted in the media, the aim of these messages was to create awareness among the people traveling on different roads and highways in the Valley, especially during night time when night patrols are underway.

“The aim of this awareness is to avoid any collateral damage and innocent killings,’’ the police officer said.

Life limps back to normalcy in Shopian; Internet Shut Remains Blocked

Shops reopened and passenger vehicles on Saturday plied in Shopian district of south Kashmir for the first time in six days after the killing of six persons, four of them civilians, by army firing on Sunday evening.

Reports said that shops and other business establishments reopened and transport, both public as well as private, was seen on roads. The schools and colleges remained closed along with three neighbouring districts of Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag as per the orders of government.

The internet in the district remained closed to the annoyance and trouble to the student and business community for the sixth day now.

Four civilians and two militants were killed at Pahnoo Shopian on Sunday. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that civilians were caught in “crossfire” between militants and the army. The police said that it was still investigation even as army claimed that the four youth were accompanying the militants and were their accomplices. The army however is tight lipped about the violation or otherwise of Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) in ambush claimed to have been laid by it following the presence of the militants in the area. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who chaired a high level meeting after the incident, also stressed on need for strict adherence of the SOP even as official statement issued soon after the meeting, participated among others by top army officers, did not mention any violation of the SOP which required army to keep men from Jammu and Kashmir Police posted along with its personal at the checkpoint. (File picture for illustration purpose)

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