Srinagar: One person was killed and two others were injured when Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) troopers opened fire at people protesting power shortage at a village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district, officials said. Five CISF personnel have been arrested in the case and a probe ordered.
The firing took place in north Baramulla district’s Boniyar village, 60 km north of Srinagar, when scores of villagers angry at the long hours of power outages took to the streets and later gathered near the local power station, police said.
CISF personnel guarding the station opened fire, killing one protester on the spot and wounding two others.
The incident triggered tension in the area and senior civil and police officers were rushed to the spot.
Principal Secretary (Home) B.R. Sharma told reporters in Jammu that five CISF men, including Sub-Inspector Krishan Thappa, have been arrested and a first information report (FIR) lodged with the police.
“The incident could have been avoided if CISF men had co-ordination with state police,” he added.
A police officer in Srinagar said that the five troopers were part of the CISF unit posted at National Hydroelectric Power Corporation’s (NHPC) Uri power plant.
Baramulla District Magistrate Bashir Ahmad Bhat told reporters that a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident.
“The additional district development commissioner Baramulla will conduct a magisterial probe into the Boniyar firing incident and submit its report within 15 days,” Bhat said.
The Omar Abdullah government has expressed its “deep regret on the tragic firing incident,” an official spokesman said in Jammu, adding it has taken a “very serious view of the incident and has asked the state police to take immediate steps to bring those responsible for the incident to book”.
“Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), whose troopers opened the fire, are not a part of the CI ( Counter Insurgency) grid operating in Jammu and Kashmir and have been hired by the NHPC exclusively for the security of their installations across the state, and are not under the operational command of either the unified headquarters or the state government,” he said.
The spokesman said that the state government has taken up the matter with the union home ministry, lodging a serious protest and demanding stern, exemplary action against the officers responsible for the firing incident.
The chief minister had dispatched a team comprising Public Health Engineering Minister Taj Mohiuddin, Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani and Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda to the village.
Meanwhile, condemning the incident, the Congress sought an inquiry into the incident.
State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz, who also hails from Baramullah, said the person killed in the firing was a class 12 student named Altaf Ahmed Sood.
The Kashmir Valley has been facing an acute power shortage that the state government attributes to low water flows in the major rivers here and power pilferage by the consumers. Protests have been seen in Srinagar and other towns in the valley.
“The (power supply) situation is not likely to improve till the beginning of March,” said an official of the power development department.
Meanwhile, in order to augment the existing electric power supply in the Valley during the winter months, the state government ordered operation of the gas turbine unit.
“We will generate nearly 80 MW of additional electric power by operating the gas turbines during the peak evening hours,” said an official of the electricity department.