Friday, August 05, 2005

Innocents killed in Kashmir & London

In the season of peace, the last thing that the Army wanted was the blood of innocents on its hands. But three days after it shot dead a boy in Pulwama in a case of mistaken identity, the Army killed three teenagers at Bangargund in Kupwara on July 25. Bilal Ahmed Sheikh, Wasim Ahmed Wani and Shabir Ahmed Shah had ventured out at night during a marriage ceremony.

They had left the house of the groom, Muhammad Jamal Sheikh, to light a cigarette and join the festivities at the bride’s house in the same village at 1.30 a.m. along with two others when the troops opened fire. Manzoor Ahmed Sheikh, the groom’s brother, was wounded but his friend Shafi Ahmed escaped unhurt.

We told the soldiers that we were going to Zubera’s house, but they opened fire. I ran away amid a hail of gunfire and explosions, said Shafi.

The soldiers guarded the bodies until 7.45 a.m., when the police took over and sent them for postmortem examination. By then, the news had spread and tension risen. A mob burnt scores of sewing machines in a welfare centre built by the Army. Barbed wires, barricades and signboards of the Army were the next target. The incident brought back memories of the 1990s when Kashmir boiled over civilian killings by the Army.

The Army called the incident unfortunate and regrettable. It offered Rs 3 lakh to the families of the dead boys and Rs 2 lakh to the injured. We have ordered a court of inquiry and will make changes in our ambush procedures. This is not a revenge killing as some elements have said, said 15 Corps Commander Lt-Gen. S.S. Dhillon. This is a militant-infested area and only a few days ago we lost a soldier and a major after they hesitated to open fire against militants for fear of killing civilians.

But alienation of people from security forces can only be to the advantage of militants.

It is not only in KASHMIR, it continues in LONDON.

SCOTLAND YARD was forced to admit that a man shot five times from close range by police officers was not connected to Thursday London terror attacks.

The Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician from Brazil who had been working legally in Britain for three years. It is believed he lived with relatives in Brixton, south London.

Witnesses to the killing of Menezes described how he was chased into Stockwell Tube station on Friday morning by armed plainclothes officers and killed with shots to the head while lying on the floor of a train.

The officers are thought to have feared that Menezes, who was wearing a quilted jacket on a summer’s day, might have been concealing a bomb. No explosives were found on him.

Within hours of the shooting, however, senior officers were saying they were very confident the man had been one of the four bombers who attempted to set off explosives in London on Thursday.

Then, as it emerged that the Brazilian was not one of the four, officers suggested he was still linked to the bombings.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, said the shooting was directly linked to anti-terror operations. Even, hours before Menezes’s identity was confirmed, security sources said police had known him from a recent counter-terrorist investigation.

It now appears to be a case of mistaken identity. The body of the electrician, originally from a town north of Rio de Janeiro, was identified by his cousin in Britain, Alex Alves Pereira.

A statement by police earlier in the day had said: We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday, July 21, 2005. For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan police service regrets.

The Brazilian government said it was shocked and perplexed at the killing and expected a full explanation.

Menezes was followed by officers on Friday morning after leaving a block of flats that had been under surveillance in Tulse Hill, south London. The officers were under the control of Gold Command, Scotland Yard’s major incident centre.

Originally, police had said the man walked from a property in Stockwell to the local Tube station. But later the statement was changed to say he had been under surveillance during a three-mile bus journey from his home to the station.

They picked him up hoping that he would take them to other people. But as soon as he was seen going towards the Tube they had to take action, a police source said.

The armed officers intervened as Menezes entered Stockwell station. Witnesses there say he bolted, leaping over the ticket barrier and running down the escalator, pursued by the plainclothes officers.

Whit by said Menezes tripped or was pushed to the floor. One of the police officers was holding a black automatic pistol in his left hand. They held it down to him and unloaded five shots into him.

It is not clear why Menezes, who was described as light-skinned, ran from the officers. Gesio de Avila, a friend, last night told how Menezes had been planning to buy a motorbike because of all the disruption to public transport. He added that he did not believe understanding police instructions would have been a problem for Menezes.

He had good English, better than mine, said Avila. The police stopped him sometimes, because he used the Underground every day, and asked him some things, and every time they would tell him ‘thank you’, and ‘sorry for stopping you’.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed it will launch an investigation into the death. The police said an inquest would be opened and adjourned.

If its continues many innocents will be kill.

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