At least 100 people sustained pellet and tear-gas shell injuries in forces’ action in various parts of Kashmir on Sunday, reports and witnesses said. Over 60 people were injured in South Kashmir areas alone where forces allegedly resorted to vandalism by damaging residential houses, set paddy harvest on fire, and also beat up inmates to pulp.
Forces allegedly went on rampage in several villages in Qaimoh area of Kulgam district, vandalized property and set ablaze two residential houses, equal number of cowsheds, a shop, paddy stacks, and granaries and also beat people to pulp, local residents told Greater Kashmir. Many people including two minors were also detained, they said. The forces’ action triggered massive clashes in the area in which 30 people were injured. A truck also went up in flames.
Locals alleged that army raided Hawoora, Mishpora, Khudwani and Redwani villages of Qaimoh in the wee hours and went berserk. “The army men straightaway barged into Jamia Masjid Hawoora where people were offering Fajr (morning) prayer and caught hold of Nimazis and beat them to pulp. They also damaged the masjid property—watches, time-board and loudspeaker,” said Imam of the mosque, Abdur Rehman Dar. He said the army men later dragged nine persons and detained them.
“Two of the arrestees are minors Bilal Ahmad Lone, 13 and Faizan Ahmad Shah, 14,” said Dar. One of the arrested youth Showkat Ahmad Shah son of Muhamad Abdullah Shah was severely tortured by army and was left in an injured state in a hospital by police, locals said. “His condition is very critical,” they said.
The army later barged inside several houses, vandalized property, smashed windowpanes, broke doors, windows and beat up inmates. “The soldiers made their way inside our home, damaging all electric and electronic appliances including washing machine, refrigerator and television and later thrashed all our family members,” said Muhamad Ramzan, a local resident. “The army men did not spare my wife and daughter and also beat them up.”
Ramzan while pointing towards bruises all over his face said that he too was beaten up with gun-butts and bamboo sticks.
A medical shop—Lone Medical Store—was also ransacked by forces. “The army men vandalized my shop and even took away the medicine,” alleged Javed Ahmad Lone, proprietor of the shop.
“The forces after ransacking our house also took along our laptop,” said a resident in Hawoora village.
“The windowpanes of at least four mosques in the area were smashed by the forces. A cowshed of a widow Saleema was also set ablaze and a grocery shop her daughter was also ransacked. I was sleeping and suddenly I heard cries and screams. I peeped through the window and saw army men setting my cowshed on fire,” she said. “They also threw away all the grocery items at our shop.”
The army later allegedly torched the house of Mushtaq Ahmad Shergojri.
“I have all lost my belongings and have been rendered homeless,” said Gojri, a laborer. “I am left with nothing.”
In adjoining Redwani Bala village, the army allegedly set ablaze house of Ghulam Muhammad Wagay and cowshed of Muhammad Abdullah Dar. The army also damaged around 100 vehicles, including motorbikes, cars, load carriers and sumo vehicles parked in villages of Hawoora, Mishpora, Khudwani and Redwani. The villagers also alleged that the army men also set ablaze granaries, paddy stacks and paddy straw.
“Around 30 bags of my harvest were reduced to ashes after forces set it on fire,” said a farmer from Redwani Bala.
To protest the high-handedness, the villagers took to streets and staged massive demonstrations in Qaimoh town and Khudwani. They also clashed with police and paramilitary forces. “Forces lobbed teargas shells and used pellet gun to quell the protests,” witnesses said. They said at least 30 people sustained injuries with many of them hit with pellets.
“The injured were treated in Sub district hospital Qaimoh and local Primary Health Centers,” a Health department official said. He said one of the youths who had sustained pellets in eye was shifted to District hospital Anantnag. “Many of the injured including with assault injuries were also being treated at various health facilities.”
During the clashes, a lorry passing through the area caught fire. A strict curfew was also imposed in entire Qaimoh area. Pertinently, Hawoora village was cordoned off by army last night after inputs about the presence of militants there. However, youth took to streets and pelted stones on them, triggering clashes that forced the army men to retreat.
At least six people were injured in protests that erupted after forces went berserk in Mohamdpora village of Kulgam.
“The forces barged into houses, vandalized property and beat up inmates including women,” said locals.
Six people were injured in the area due to beating were hospitalized. The incident triggered massive protests and clashes.
At least 15 people were injured in clashes in Muloo Chitragam village of Shopian.
Reports and witnesses said clashes erupted in the village after forces ransacked the house of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat district president Muhammad Yousuf Falahi and beat up the family members.
They said posters have been pasted in the area declaring Falahi as a proclaimed offender and asking him to surrender immediately. Falahi, they said, was instrumental in organizing rallies in Shopian.
Clashes were also reported in Nayna village of Pulwama. A pro-freedom march called by joint resistance leadership was foiled by forces in Medoora village of Tral and Kakpora with restrictions. However, people defied the curbs in Bijbehara town and held a pro-freedom procession. “The procession began from Eidgah and culminated at Shaheed Park,” locals said.
They said funeral prayers in-absentia were also offered for two Pakistani army men killed recently in firing by Indian counterparts.
ARMY, POLICE REFUTE ALLEGATIONS
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Army’s Srinagar-based spokesman Colonel Rajesh said “Army is not involved in any sort of vandalism.”
“We are not involved in act of damage to property in Kulgam,” Kalia said.
A police spokesman said the district police administration Kulgam has clarified that in the morning, after the withdrawal of the deployment from Khudwani, Redwani and nearby areas “miscreants assembled and set on fire two heaps of paddy straw at Redwani.”
“The miscreants also set on fire a truck at Khudwani which suffered some damage. It has further clarified that there is no report of damage to any structure in the area as has been claimed in a news story. The news is baseless and far from the facts and is therefore refuted,” the police spokesman said in a statement.
Intense clashes broke out between youth and government forces in Putushai village of Bandipora after forces foiled a pro-freedom rally there. Witnesses said police and CRPF fired dozens of tear smoke shells and pellets as people were trying to gather in a local Eidgah for the proposed rally. Locals had called for ‘Putushai Chalo’ where several resistance leaders were supposed to address the rally. Later, forces barged into the village and allegedly resorted to indiscriminate teargas shelling and pellet firing, triggering intense clashes.
“Several people received minor pellet injuries during the clashes,” witnesses said. They said as police entered the village, the villagers including women came out of their homes to resist their (forces’) move and chased them away while they responded by firing dozens of teargas shells and pellets. Witnesses said two CRPF personnel fell into a canal, which passes through the village, after they were chased away by the villagers. Later, they were rescued by their colleagues amid heavy tear-gas shelling and pellet firing. Locals told Greater Kashmir that the rally was again held at the same place after Zuhr prayers, where several Jamaat-e-Islami and Hurriyat leaders addressed a huge gathering. According to witnesses, the forces were stoned at nearby Qazipora and Watapora villages as they were being chased away by Putushai villagers. Restrictions were imposed in Sumbal area of Bandipora to thwart ‘Sumbal chalo’ call given by joint resistance leadership.
Witnesses and reports said police had erected barricades at various places and movement of people was restricted. “All entry points were sealed to stop people from marching towards Sumbal,” they said.
Reports from Sopore said in view of the Sopore Chalo call, police imposed strict curbs across the Tehsil. They however staged rallies in the interiors of Sopore. A major rally was held at Jamia Masjid Sopore in which hundreds of people participated. Pro-freedom rallies were held in various villages that include Chanakhan, Bömai, Tujjar Sharief, Botengo, Dooru and Muslim Peer.
Reports said forces foiled Kralpora-Kupwara Chalo by imposing restrictions in Trehgam and Kralpora. Clashes erupted at Guglosa area after a pro-freedom rally was taken out by youth. Forces fired pellets and tear-gas shells to disperse the protestors. Reports said 10 youth sustained minor injuries in the forces’ action.
Police had imposed strict curbs to prevent ‘Narbal Chalo’ called by the joint resistance leadership. Intense clashes, however, broke out at Kanihama, Kawoosa and Narbal. Forces had placed barbed wire on the road at Chinar Colony Kawoosa, Narbal crossing and on Srinagar-Gulmarg road.
In Mazhama, locals alleged vandalism by forces. They said as youth tried to march towards Narbal, heavy contingent of forces arrived at the spot and resorted to damaging houses especially in Lonepur and Mir Mohalla.
Reports said 15 people mostly women sustained injuries in the forces’ action.
Reports said in Chek-e-Kawoosa Khalisa, at least six people sustained pellet and teargas shell injuries. They were treated locally. Clashes continued in Narbal area till late evening.
In Ganderbal district, six persons including a cop and three women were injured after clashes broke out between locals and forces at Saloora. Locals said forces entered Saloora locality and raised objection on playing of freedom songs on loudspeakers of a local masjid. The locals resisted the forces’ move, triggering clashes in which six youth sustained injuries. Police resorted to firing of sound-shots to disperse the protesters.
Meanwhile, locals alleged forces beat them up and also damaged residential houses. “Among the injured, three women sustained fractures in legs and arms,” they said. Reports said three youth have been booked under Public Safety Act and sent to Kothbalwal jail in Jammu. They were identified as Wasim Ahmad Sofi of Kondbal, Manasbal, Bashir Ahmad Rather alias Boya of Beehama and Asif Ahmad Mala of Wakura. At least 17 people have been booked under PSA from Ganderbal district so far.
Forces foiled a rally that was heading towards Badam Wari in old Srinagar by firing pellets and tear-gas shells. Four youth sustained mild injuries in the police action. Forces also foiled a protest rally at Nadergund, Peerbagh in uptown Srinagar. People from various areas that include Umarabad and Bagwanpora also participated in the rally which culminated peacefully. Evening clashes were reported from many old Srinagar areas that include Nawakadal, Khanyar, Bohri Kadal, Nawabazar and Saraf Kadal. Similar clashes were also reported from Eidgah, Palpora, Safa Kadal, Nowpora and Soura 90-feet Road. A peaceful protest was also held in Nowgam area of uptown while peaceful protest rallies were held at Lasjan and Soiteng areas.
According to a statement issued by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir, situation remained by and large peaceful today. “A couple of stray stone pelting incidents were reported,” it said. The statement said that during the day, greater movement of people and vehicular traffic was observed in Srinagar, besides Sunday market also opened in the city which was thronged by shoppers. “Vehicles were also seen plying in the main towns as also on the inter-district roads,” it said. The statement said that police in its drive against the “miscreants arrested 60 such individuals involved in various offences of creating disturbances in different part of Kashmir.”