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Rights group hails Kashmir arrest over killing

New York, Feb 12 (IANS) The arrest of a Border Security Force (BSF) constable suspected of killing a Kashmiri teenager could be an important step to curtail security force abuses, Human Rights Watch has said.

The Indian government should also investigate and appropriately punish any senior officers implicated in the case, the US-based group said Thursday.

Lakhvinder Kumar of BSF’s 68th Battalion is being held as a suspect in the killing of 17-year-old Zahid Farooq in Srinagar Feb 5 as he played cricket at a playground.

The killing led to widespread protests across Kashmir.

‘It is extremely rare for the security forces in Kashmir to turn over one of their own to the civilian justice system,’ said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. ‘Now they should go a step further to see if senior officers were also responsible.’

The killing of Zahid Farooq followed the death of 14-year-old Wamiq Farooq Jan 31 who died when he was struck by a tear gas canister as the police tried to disperse a crowd protesting Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian military operates in Jammu and Kashmir under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which provides soldiers immunity from prosecution unless sanctioned by the government.

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