Massive protests rocked Kupwara in north Kashmir on Sunday after a 28-year-old taxi driver was shot dead at the Thandipora village of Kralpora in the border district on Saturday night.While family and locals accused the Army troops of killing Asif Iqbal Bhat, the Army spokesperson maintained that he was killed in crossfire. The police have filed an FIR ans the J&K government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, in an apparent bid to calm the tempers.Meanwhile, Sajid Iqbal, brother of the slain taxi driver, said: “A passenger called us, requesting Asif to pick him up from the Batpora Road. Then my brother said he was leaving. I was in my room when I heard the gunshots. In a minute, my parents and sisters rushed to my room and said Asif has been killed. We went out to figure out who fired the shots but somebody fired at us as well.”According to the police, Asif got seriously injured after being hit by a bullet at Thandipora.”He was shifted to the sub-district hospital in Kralpora for treatment, from where he was referred to the Srinagar hospital for better treatment, but he succumbed to his injuries,” a police spokesman said.Senior superintendent of police, Kupwara, Shamsheer Hussain said it was an unfortunate incident and they have set up inquiry commission to investigate the circumstances in which the firing took place. “We will go to the bottom of this case. Locals are alleging that an Army party opened fire. Nobody is above law. We will investigate it thoroughly,” he said.When queried, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar, said the Army had placed ambushes in the Thandipora village to maintain surveillance over the area after receiving information about the presence of terrorists there on Saturday night.”At 10.55 pm, an ambush party observed suspicious movement of three persons near the Nallah in Thandipora village. The individuals were challenged by the troops but they did not respond. Thereafter, the terrorists opened fire at the ambush party, which was returned. In the crossfire, Asif Iqbal Bhat was killed due to a gunshot wound. It has been learnt that he was a Sumo taxi driver. Investigation is in progress,” Colonel Kalia said.Massive protests then rocked the village, with hundreds of people taking to the streets, raising pro-freedom slogans, blocking the roads, and clashing with the police. Sensing trouble, Kuopwara district commissioner Khalid Jahangir ordered a magisterial inquiry and asked the inquiry officer to submit a report within three weeks.Expressing grief over the incident, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti directed the district administration to speed up the probe and punish the culprits. The main Opposition, National Conference, too, condemned the killing and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident. “The FIR registered by the police must be taken to its logical conclusion. Being killed in a crossfire can’t be a justification for Asif Iqbal’s death,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, former J&K CM.Separatists also jumped on to the bandwagon to lash out against the government. While addressing the mourners over phone, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani used the occasion to call for an election boycott.WHAT HAPPENEDAsif Iqbal Bhat was shot dead at Thandipora village of Kralpora on Saturday night. The victim’s family and locals accused the Army troops of killing him.
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