Firing On Civilians Intolerable: NC Lawmaker
Pulwama, Jan 2: Life in this South Kashmir town limped back to normal on Wednesday after five days of curfew and shutdown following the forces’ firing on civilians resulting in injuries to nine persons.
Though the authorities had lifted the curfew on Tuesday after strictly enforcing it for four consecutive days, but a spontaneous shutdown and clashes were witnessed in the town resulting in injuries to several people including cops. People were protesting against the unprovoked firing on civilians by the forces on Friday in Chandigam and Pulwama town, alleged excesses by the police and detention of youth.
The traders and transporters were also demanding compensation for the losses incurred due to the alleged ransacking of shops, houses and smashing of window panes of houses as well as vehicles by the forces. However, on assurance of the district administration and senior police officials, the traders today called off the strike.
“The district administration and police has assured of assessing and compensating our losses and hence we have decided to call off the strike,” said the traders. They said that the officials also assured of looking into the complaints of alleged excesses committed by the forces. Police also released all the 13 youth detained on charges of stone pelting.
Shops, other business establishments, public and private offices in the town today opened after five days and transport plied normally. The main markets of the town remained abuzz with business activities and heavy rush was witnessed as people were seen buying essential commodities.
Indefinite curfew was clamped in Pulwama on Friday after nine civilians were injured in forces’ firing at two different places. Seven people were wounded when forces opened fire on hundreds of people who tried to march towards the site where two holed up local militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit were engaged in a gunfight with troops at Chandgam village. One of the injured was hit by a stray bullet as the forces had fired all around after leaving the village.
Later, two more persons were injured when the Army after being caught in a traffic jam allegedly opened fire at a group of people near Rajpora Chowk when the latter were shifting the injured to hospital. One of the already injured persons also received another bullet.
The firing triggered protests in the district as people clashed with police and paramilitary personnel. Angry protesters also stoned the vehicle of Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Shopian causing injuries to him. His personal security officer (PSO) and driver also suffered injuries, while the vehicle suffered heavy damage.
As the protests turned intense, the district administration announced time-bound probe into the firing on civilians and placed the town under indefinite curfew. The police also lodged an FIR while the Defence Ministry has sought detailed report from the Army about the incident.
Meanwhile, National Conference leader and Member Legislative Council, Dr Bashir Ahmad Veeri has demanded an impartial probe into the firing and sought exemplary punishment to the accused.
“The firing on civilians in Pulwama is unfortunate, intolerable and shameful and such things boomerang by alienating the youth and push them towards violence and radicalism,” said Veeri in a statement.
He said that on one hand Union Home Minister was visiting Lal Chowk, Dal Lake and holy shrines to send a message to the world that peace has returned to the valley but on the other hand the forces under his command are brutalizing common people to instigate a cycle of violence.
“The double standards need to be checked immediately and sweeping powers vested to armed forces under extra judicial laws like AFSPA need to be withdrawn,” said Veeri.
The MLC opined that since local police has emerged as competent as any other force in the country so they should be entirely given the powers to manage the internal law and order.
He also asked the government to compensate the victims and rehabilitate them on priority. “The culprits involved in the firing should be awarded stern punishment,” Dr Veeri demanded.