Several Hurt In Clashes; 9 Youth Detained
Pulwama, Jan 1: Several persons including six cops were injured in violent clashes between forces and protesters in this South Kashmir town on Tuesday even as authorities lifted curfew after four days. A class 12 student was reportedly hit by a tear gas shell in his face and was shifted to Srinagar for treatment. Officials said that senior officials of police and district administration, after holding a meeting with some citizens of the town, decided to lift the curfew today. However, a spontaneous shutdown was observed in the town against forces’ firing on Friday in which nine civilians were injured.
The Traders Federation stayed away from the meeting and demanded action against the policemen allegedly involved in excesses and ransacking of their shops. Though the district administration assured of forming a committee headed by Additional District Magistrate to look into the complaints, and promised compensation for losses, the traders termed it a delaying tactic and decided to observe shutdown.
“We know that formation of such committees won’t serve any purpose and it is nothing but a tactic to cool our tempers and once the things get settled everybody will forget it,” said Chairman Traders Federation Pulwama, Bashir Ahmad Wani.
He said that Divisional Commissioner should visit the town and provide due compensation to the traders after assessing the losses the shopkeepers suffered because of the ransacking by policemen and paramilitary forces.
Reports said even as the curfew was lifted, police and paramilitary forces armed with riot gears and sophisticated weapons were manning the streets of the town to maintain law and order. However youth in large numbers assembled in the streets and staged demonstrations, reports said. The forces deployed in large numbers chased them away.
“The protesters hurled stones and bricks on the forces which the latter retaliated by resorting to baton charge and lobbing tear gas shells,” eyewitness said. They said the forces fired warning shots in air to quell the protests, however the youth organized themselves in small groups and the clashes spread to almost entire town including Prechoo, Malik Pora, Dallipora, Chatipora, Rajpora Chowk and Murran Chown after which reinforcements of police and CRPF were rushed to the town.
The ding-dong battles between the forces and the protesters continued throughout the day and were on till late in the evening.
Reports said that several people were injured which included a youth Zubair Ahmad Pandit S/O Muhammad Rafiq Pandit, a class 12 student of Karimabad. He was reportedly hit by a tear gas canister in his jaw while going for his coaching classes. Pandit was immediately rushed to district hospital Pulwama wherefrom he was shifted to Government Dental College Srinagar for specialized treatment.
“Zubair was bleeding profusely and has lost two teeth,” said a medico in district hospital.
Six cops also sustained injuries in the clashes and were treated in the district hospital. These included Constable Adil Nabi, Head Constable Ghulam Nabi, Constable Muhammad Abass, Constable Jaleel Ahmad, Constable Mushtaq Ahmad and Constable Ashiq Hussain.
Police later launched a massive crackdown and detained nine youth from the town, however locals say that those detained were innocent and were picked up randomly.
“Most of the detained youth are students who were going to their tuitions,” said a resident, Muhammad Qayoom.
The arrested include; Sajad Ahmad Bhat S/O Abdul Hamid Bhat of Delaw Pulwama; Javaid Malik s/o Ghulam Mohuidin of Medoora Tral; Showkat Ahmad Dar S/O Nazir Ahmad Dar R/O Murrran Pulwama, Sameer Ahmad Sofi S/O Ghulam Hassan Sofi of Rajpora, Pulwama; Showkat Ahmad Zargar S/O Manzoor Ahmad Zargar of Rajpora Pulwama; Gulzar Ahmad Kumar S/O Bashir Ahmad Kumar of Chattipora Pulwama; Muhammad Altaf Ganai S/O Ghulam Mohuidin Ganai of Chattipora Pulwama; Younis Dar S/O Muhammad Maqbool of Mangihama Pulwama and Muddasir Rasool S/O Ghulam Rasool Malik of Muran Pulwama.
The residents also accused the forces of going berserk and committing excesses.
“The forces went on a rampage and besides thrashing the pedestrians they barged into many houses in the town and ransacked household goods, utensils and beat up the inmates,” alleged the residents. They said that even women, children and elderly were not spared.
Meanwhile, the authorities are likely to re-impose curfew on Wednesday.
“We are monitoring the situation and if things improve we will not enforce any restrictions but if it won’t, we would be left with no other option but to clamp curfew again,” said an official.
He appealed the people to maintain calm and foil any attempts of vested interests who are trying to disturb peace in the district. “We won’t allow anyone to create law and order problem in the district,” an official added.
Nine persons were injured when forces fired on civilians at two different places on Friday, first at Chandgam village where two militants were killed in an encounter and later at Pulwama town when the injured were being taken to hospital. The government ordered a magisterial inquiry into the firing incident. The Army has denied involvement in the firing.
Defence Minister A K Antony has sought a report from the army over the firing incident in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on December 28, which resulted in injuries to seven civilians and subsequent protests in the valley.
The Defence Minister has sought to know what actually happened on the fateful day, sources said.
Antony’s directive came amid reports that a case of attempt to murder has been filed against a unit of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in Pulwama.
The army personnel have been accused of opening fire to clear way for their vehicles carrying four persons, including two army officers, injured in a gun-battle with LeT militants in a nearby village (Chandgam). Seven civilians were injured when army allegedly opened fire on the civilians in the area.
The army has been denying that their men opened fire on the people, who had allegedly blocked the road when the four injured, who included two policemen also, were being evacuated to a hospital.
Senior army officials insist that their personnel were not even present in Pulwama Chowk when the firing took place.
In the encounter, two LeT militants were killed and a Major and a Captain of the army besides a policeman were injured.
“When the Major was being evacuated for treatment, a mob attacked the ambulance at Pulwama by hurling stones. In the retaliatory action, seven persons were injured,” police said in the statement about the incident on December 28.
After the incident, Kashmir valley witnessed strike and Pulwama was placed under curfew which was lifted today.