A 28-year-old Gujjar youth was killed and another hurt allegedly in Army firing in Ramban district on Sunday.
Police have registered an FIR against the Army unit involved in the incident.
Mohammad Rafiq Gujjar (28) and Shakeel Ahmad (30), both residents of Gool in Ramban district were fired upon by troops of 58 Rashtriya Rifles when they were leaving Kohli village around 4 am, a police official said.
He said Rafiq died on the spot while Ahmad was injured and admitted to a hospital.
Both of them were cattle traders.
Sources said Rafiq and Shakeel were staying at the residence of Manzoor Ahmed Wani at village Kohli (Gool).
The duo had planned to stay for a night at Manzoor’s residence and next morning, they had to move towards Dokh with their cattle.
“The duo woke up at 4 pm and went outside the room. They provided fodder to their cattle and returned back to their room,” said the witnesses.
Before they could have returned to the room, the witnesses said, 58 Rashtriya Rifle (RR) men who had laid cordon around the residence allegedly opened firing at the duo.
“Rafiq was killed on the spot and Shakeel wounded in army firing. Two persons were also detained by 58 RR men,” the witnesses said.
They said the two persons who were picked up by the Army for questioning were let off and handed over to police after district administration intervened following massive protest by the locals.
According to locals, Shakeel was lying besides the body of his deceased colleague when police and people rushed to the house to rescue them and shift them to hospital.
They said people came to know about the incident when Shakeel, who was injured in army firing, made phone calls to his friends and family members.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Ramban, Mohan Lal confirmed the death of a civilian and injuries to another in the firing.
“An FIR under section 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) Ranbir Penal Code and various sections of arms act was registered against the Army (personnel),” he said.
Defence spokesman in Jammu, Lt Col Devender Anand said the army men fired when they came under attack after they challenged the suspected individuals.
“An operation was launched by the Army based on specific intelligence inputs in Kohli area of Gool tehsil. At 3.45 am, the Army patrol saw some suspicious activities. The suspected individuals were challenged by the Army as per the standing operating procedure. On being challenged, the suspected individuals opened fire on the Army patrol. On this, the Army patrol retaliated effectively,” the spokesman said.
However, the police officer said no weapon was found at the scene or in the possession of the deceased.
Meanwhile, Tribal Research and Cultural foundation – an organisation representing Gujjars and Bakerwal communities – condemned the incident and demanded a judicial inquiry.
“The killing of a cattle rarer and injuries to another is highly condemnable which needs to be investigated thoroughly,” the foundation said in a statement.
It said an email has been sent to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, demanding punishment to the culprits as per law.
“The community also demanded that a strong directive must be issued to security forces so that more such incidents do not occur in tribal areas any more,” the foundation said and demanded compensation for both the families. (Additional inputs from PTI)