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Indian trooper charged over teen's death

From Mukhtar Ahmad, CNN
Men pray over the coffin of Zahid Farooq Sheikh at his funeral in Srinagar on February 6, 2010.
Men pray over the coffin of Zahid Farooq Sheikh at his funeral in Srinagar on February 6, 2010.
  • Indian trooper charged over death of 17-year-old Zahid Farooq Sheikh
  • Teenager died after being shot in the chest Friday in Srinagar
  • Killing came as police hit streets to curb protests after 13-year-old boy died
  • 13-year-old Whamiq Farooq Wani was hit in the head by a tear gas shell
  • India
  • Srinagar
  • Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir (CNN) -- Police arrested an Indian border guard trooper Wednesday, charging that he killed one of two teenagers whose deaths sparked days of unrest here last week.

Inspector general of police in Kashmir Zone, Farooq Ahmad, told CNN the soldier arrested is Lakhwinder Kumar of the 86 battalion of the Indian paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF).

Zahid Farooq Sheikh, 17, died after being hit by a bullet in the chest Friday in the Nishat area of the city. The teen's family and friends said he was shot at and killed by a BSF trooper.

The state government initially maintained that the young man was killed by "mysterious fire" and had ordered a probe to expose the culprits.

The killing came as Indian security forces flooded the streets of the city, battling anti-India demonstrators who were protesting the death of another teenager, 13-year old student Whamiq Farooq, on January 31.

Farooq was hit in the head by a tear gas shell apparently fired by security forces as he played cricket at a stadium here. His death set off violent protests in Muslim-majority Kashmir that continued until Monday, prompting authorities to impose curfew-like restrictions in parts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state.

More than 100 people -- including Indian security troops -- were wounded in the more than week-long clashes between protesters and security forces.

Police had already filed a case of murder and had begun investigations into the killing of Zahid Farooq Sheikh when the trooper was arrested.

The special director general of the Border Security Force, P.P.S. Sidhu, told a news conference that "an internal inquiry by the BSF into the allegation of firing which led to the death of the youth on February 6 has revealed prima facie possibility of the soldier Lakhwinder Kumar of the BSF being involved in the incident.

"As a consequence, the soldier has been placed under suspension and is being handed over to the police for further investigation in accordance with law."

The senior BSF officer also said the unit to which the trooper belonged was posted in the Gulmarg sector of the line of control that divides Kashmir into Indian- and Pakistan-administered parts.

"The trooper, along with others belonging to his unit, had gone to Nishat area for a routine medical check-up on Friday when the incident occurred," he said.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, which is divided between the two countries. Anti-India protesters seeking independence for the mountain area are in constant conflict with authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir.