25 injured in violence near Amarnath base camp

Clashes between local tent owners, langarwallahs; yatra suspended

Clashes broke out Friday near Baltal, the base camp of Amarnath Yatra, after a dispute between local tent owners and those pilgrims running community kitchens and alleged high-handedness by CRPF personnel, leaving at least 25 people injured following which the yatra has been suspended.
 Chief Minister Omar Abdullah deputed senior officials in the area, over 100 kilometres southeast of Srinagar, and the situation is under control, officials said.
 The incident took place at Dumail near Baltal area which comes under Sonamarg, a picturesque tourist spot. A small altercation broke out between ‘langarwallahs’, who run community kitchens for the pilgrims, and local tent owners and pony wallahs.
 However, the quarrel soon took a violent turn as the local unit of CRPF tried to intervene.
 Eyewitnesses said that Nayab Ahmad s/o Saif-ud-din of Markan Kupwara, a tent wala, was injured after in-charge of ‘Katra Langars’ allegedly beat him during a scuffle between the two. Injured Nayab was rushed to local hospital where from he was shifted to SKIMS Srianagar.
 As the news of the incident spread, hundreds of tent wallahs, pony wallahs, traders, vendors and labourers staged protests and started to march towards Dumail.
 CRPF personnel on duty resorted to lathi-charge, aerial firing and used tear smoke shells to disperse them. Dozens of tents installed by locals and free langars established by non-locals were burnt in violent clashes.
 Locals accused the CRPF men of setting their tents on fire.
 Locals alleged that langarwallahs ignited trouble by beating and injuring local tent owners. Reports said that dozens of tents owned by locals were burnt and the entire area was rocked due to explosions of gas cylinders inside the burning tents. About one dozen fire tenders from Srinagar and Ganderbal areas rushed to the spot to douse the fire.
 While a police spokesman maintained that only 12 people were wounded, locals said as many as 25 people were injured which included a few with burn injuries.
 The injured undergoing treatment in Kangan trauma hospital are Zafar Ahmad Shah of Nambal
 Islamabad, Mushtaq Ahmad Magrey of Kangan, Mushtaq Ahmad Raina of Rezan Sonamarag, Rafaqat Ahmad of Ganiwan Kagnan, Javaid Ahmad of Watlar Ganderbal, Riyaz Ahmad Paswal of Satrina Kangan, Imtiyaz Ahmad of Kullan Kangan, Abdul Majid Malik of Thune Kangan, Gasha of Kullan Kangan, Fayaz Ahmad of Rayil Kangan and Abdul Rashid Barwal of Wudar Kangan.
 Dr Qazi Javaid, Medical Superintendent Kangan told Greater Kashmir that two critically injured persons were shifted to SKIMS Srinagar.
 Allegations were levelled that CRPF personnel had shown high-handedness and had set the tents on fire, but they were denied by the force.
 “The situation has been brought under control and senior police and civil administration officials are on the spot to resolve the issue,” the police spokesman said.
 While officially police only said that they had registered a case, sources said that as many as three CRPF personnel were detained by the local police.
 Reacting to the developments, CRPF claimed that 10 community kitchens were set on fire by protesters resulting in injury to its 12 jawans.
 Meanwhile, police said that yatra has been suspended in view of the violence.  (WITH INPUTS FROM PTI)