Srinagar: The death of a 25-year-old man at the hands of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper in Kashmir’s Budgam district Wednesday triggered a controversy as his uncle, a local police officer, claimed he was the victim of unprovoked firing.
Mehrajuddin Shah was driving a car, with his uncle Ghulam Hassan Shah in the passenger seat, when he was shot by a CRPF trooper at a security checkpoint in Kawoosa.
The CRPF and Jammu & Kashmir Police subsequently issued statements claiming Mehrajuddin was shot after he fled two security points.
However, Shah, an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in J&K Police, said Mehrajuddin was shot dead at “point-blank” range, without “any provocation or warning”. Shah added that he told the checking team he was a police officer, but Mehrajuddin was shot nevertheless.
ThePrint called senior police officers in the district for a comment on Shah’s allegations, but there was no response. A senior CRPF officer posted in Srinagar, meanwhile, refused to comment on the matter, saying the force had already issued a statement.
‘Didn’t help him reach hospital’
Mehrajuddin, who worked at one of the J&K Bank’s village-based khidmat help centres, was shot dead Wednesday morning. Shah, who is posted at the police control room in Srinagar, said his nephew was driving him to work when the incident happened.
“In the morning, when I was leaving for office, my nephew offered to drop me,” Shah told ThePrint.
“When we were stopped at the naka (security checkpoint), I told the constable that I was an ASI posted at the police control room. I told him that I was late and requested him to let us go,” he added.
“The constable told us we could pass but he signaled something to the CRPF trooper who simply opened fire and my nephew was hit in the chest. There was no provocation, no warning,” he said.
Too shaken to drive, Shah said, he “panicked and came out of the car and yelled at the constable and the CRPF trooper”.
“Then I ran back towards my nephew who was bleeding profusely. I begged the officials present there to provide a vehicle so I could take him to hospital but they didn’t,” he added. “They didn’t even ask any of the cars passing by to help me. It was only after 20 minutes that I completely lost patience and started to yell in the middle of the road. A local resident then stopped and took us to the hospital but it was too late.”
Mehrajuddin, he said, was pronounced dead at a hospital nearby.
Earlier in the day, both the CRPF and J&K Police claimed Mehrajuddin was shot after he jumped two security checkpoints despite having been signalled to stop.
“The said vehicle… fled away from two naka points in suspicious condition.The naka party opened fire at the vehicle to thwart the attempt. The driver of the vehicle got injured in the incident and has been identified as Mehrajuddin Peer, son of Ghulam Nabi Peer, resident of Makhama Beerwah Budgam,” J&K Police said in a statement.
The CRPF said a “jawan” had first fired “warning shots” to stop Mehrajuddin, worried about a possible “sabotage” bid as an Army convoy passed nearby.
“A convoy of Army, at that point in time, was passing through the adjacent road and fearing a sabotage, the CRPF jawan of C/141, manning this naka, fired warning shots,” it added. “This civil car was driving in the wrong direction of the road and that was even more alarming. When the car didn’t stop, despite warning shots, the jawan fired at the car and, in turn, the driver was hit on his left shoulder.
However, Shah contested their claim. “The statements made by authorities regarding the killing of my nephew are a complete lie,” he said.