Students’ protests calling for justice in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old child in January this year were held in several areas of the Valley on Wednesday. Some of these protests morphed into clashes in which at least 30 students were injured.
At least 60 protesting students fainted after inhaling gases emanating from teargas canisters, chili grenades and PAVA shells.
Carrying placards and shouting pro-freedom slogans, students from various coaching centres along Khanabal-Pahalgam Road demonstrated and demanded punishment to the culprits of the crime. Soon government forces arrived and clashes erupted. Forces used tear shells, chilli grenades, PAVA shells, pellets to break the protest. They also charged the students with batons.
“Fifteen injured, including those hit by pellets, were brought to the district hospital Anantnag. One of them was shifted to SKIMS, Soura for treatment,” said a doctor.
He said one of the female students had sustained multiple injuries in left leg, chest and nose and another in neck and chest.
“One more girl had multiple fractures in hand and face due to beating,” the doctor added.
He said many of the female students fainted due to suffocation caused by smoke.
Locals alleged that the forces beat up a few pedestrians, including employees of the HDFC Bank who were going to work.
Several women students also accused police of harassment.
Meanwhile, students of the Government Degree College Boys, Khanabal, Anantnag, boycotted classes after learning about KP road clashes. They pelted the forces near Dak Bungalow with stones.
The clashes soon spread to Lal Chowk and other localities of the town.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed in the town after the protests subsided.
Several shopkeepers and pedestrians were also rounded up by the police.
A police spokesperson said the police and district administration allowed a peaceful protest at Anantnag.
“Some miscreants indulged in stone pelting and turned violent and tried to enforce shutdown in Anantnag town,” the spokesman said, adding two policemen and as many “miscreants” were injured.
“All of them are stated to be stable.
Students also held protests in Bijbehara and Kulgam.
At least 10 students were injured and as many as 50 fainted due to suffocation caused by teargas during clashes that erupted in university and college campuses in the district.
Students held a massive protest inside the campus of the Islamic University of Science and Technology. The students alleged the police entered the campus and damaged the vehicles parked inside.
A source said, two students were injured during clashes while several girl students complained of suffocation after police fired dozens of teargas and pepper gas canisters to disperse the protesters
“SDPO and SHO Awantipora also received injuries during clashes,” Awantipora senior superintendent of police Muhammad Zahid Malik told Kashmir Post.
He said the students threw stones at the forces who were trying to push them inside the varsity to ensure free movement of vehicles on the highway.
Following the clashes, IUST management suspended class work for Thursday. Aijaz Qureshi, the PRO, told Kashmir Post there is no alternative to suspending class work in the prevailing circumstances.
The examinations, he said, stand postponed and class work has also been suspended for Thursday.
At least 50 students of the Government Degree College Tral fainted during clashes that erupted after protest against the gang rape and murder of Kathua girl turned violent.
Students on Wednesday morning boycotted class work and staged a protest outside the campus.
Meanwhile, students of the Government Boys HSS Tral also marched on streets. However, forces deployed in the area fired teargas into the protesters, triggering clashes in which two school students were injured.
“We were holding a peaceful protest inside the college premises but government forces barged inside and without any provocation fired teargas inside classrooms. They also vandalised the parked vehicles inside the campus,” the students said.
Following the clashes, shopkeepers lowered their shutters and traffic disappeared from the roads.
Three students were also detained by the police.
In Pulwama town, a protest march by students of the Government Degree College Boys was joined by students from Govt Boys Higher Secondary School Pulwama. As the students reached near Murran Chowk, they clashed with government forces. The clashes spread to other areas.
“The protesters also caught hold of three policemen who in self-defense resorted to aerial firing,” a police official said.
At least three students sustained pellet injury in eye and were shifted to the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.
Pulwama senior superintendent of police Muhammad Aslam said, “We have arrested some people who were pelting stones on us during the protests. A few policemen were also injured in the clashes.”
Protests were also held by students of the Government Boys Higher Secondary School Pampore and Girls Higher Secondary School Pampore.
Central & North Kashmir
Bemina Degree College management suspended classes for the day after students walked out of the campus and demonstrated on the main road. The protest soon morphed into a clash between students and government forces.
Principal Government Degree College Bemina said the students had staged peaceful protest which later turned into clashes. “Then we had no option to suspend classes,” he said.
At least seven students sustained injured during clashes were shifted to the SKIMS Medical College Hospital.
Student protests were also held at the Kashmir University campus, Islamia College Hawal, College of Education, Kashmir Law College and a few higher secondary in Srinagar.
Lawyers and civil society members demonstrated at the Press Enclave. They were holding placards which read: “Nothing less than death sentence to those who rape, murder budding kids.”
Clashes also broke out between students of the Boys Degree College Baramulla and police after the former staged protests against the horrific rape-and-murder of a minor girl in Kathua.
An eye witness said police lobbed scores of teargas canisters into the protesting students, triggering clashes.
In Baramulla town, a group of female students took out a protest march against the brutal rape and murder of Kathua girl. The protesting students were demanding stern action against the accused person.
Students of the Degree College Uri demonstrated in the area.
Student protests were also held at Government Degree College Ganderbal.
Ganderbal senior superintendent of police Ganderbal Fayaz Ahmed Lone said the students “resorted to stone pelting and created law and order problem”.
Protests were also held at the Government Degree College (GDC) Bandipora, GDC Sumbal, Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Bandipora and Degree College Sumbal.
3 Hit by pellets face vision loss
As student protests against Kathua rape and murder intensified in the Valley, three more persons with pellet injuries to eyes were admitted to the SMHS Hospital here.
The injuries, doctors said, might result in victims’ losing their vision. As per official records, two of the injured were shifted from Pulwama, where massive student protests were witnessed against the horrific rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in January this year.
A 20-year-old youth was brought to the hospital from Chadoora with a serious eye injury.
Doctors said all three had perforations in eyes.
“Pellets have entered their eyes resulting in internal bleeding. We will need to re-evaluate the extent of damage when the bleeding subsides. But right now, the injuries seem grave,” said a doctor at the ophthalmology ward of the hospital where the injured are being treated.
Since 1 April, when killing of 13 militants and four civilians in three gunfights in south Kashmir triggered a wave of protests, at least 52 people, the majority of them students, have received eye injuries that could result in vision loss, according to doctors.
While both state and central governments had repeatedly assured in the past that use of the pellet guns would be stopped, protesters continue to lose vision to this lethal ammunition.
Since 2016, metallic pellets fired from shotguns by government forces have blinded more than 1300 eyes. Most of those left visually impaired are teenagers.