17-yr-old says army soldiers tied him to a tree and beat him with iron rods, gun butts; police arrest 64 more youth; people in Bugam say forces looted and vandalised homes
Srinagar: Continuing with the use of force against unarmed people, government forces injured dozens of persons across Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, the 74th day of the public uprising against India. A dozen injured persons were brought to Srinagar for treatment, nine of them admitted to SMHS hospital and three to SKIMS Bemina.
In Hajin area of Bandipora, Mohammad Asif, a 17-year-old watchman at an apple orchard, said he was ruthlessly beaten by soldiers of the army’s 13 Rashtriya Rifles unit. The incident led to protests in the area in which eight persons were injured. Three persons sustained critical injuries and were referred to Srinagar for specialised treatment.
The boy, Asif, said that at 1:30 in the afternoon when he was standing guard at an apple orchard in Bhat Chak village, one-and-a half kilometers from his residence in Hajin, 22 to 23 army soldiers arrived and tied him to a tree. “Then they started beating me with iron batons and gun butts. After leaving me half dead, they damaged the orchard. They also took away three apple boxes from the orchard,” he said.
He said that later an army man, who looked “Kashmiri”, untied him when the other army men had left.
His neighbour Gulzar Ahmed said that he received a phone call from Asif at 3pm. Ahmed took along Asif’s brother and rushed to the orchard on a motorbike. “His condition was such that we couldn’t put him on the bike. Then we brought a car and took him to nearby Hajin hospital,” Gulzar Ahmed said.
He said that after giving first-aid to Asif, the doctors at Hajin hospital referred him to JVC hospital in Bemina, Srinagar. “While we were on way to JVC hospital, we saw army men in about 20 vehicles moving towards Hajin. Later we came to know they had attacked the villagers there.”
Ajaz, a 14-year-old who lives in Bandipora district, said he had become “victim” of the army’s “rampage” in Hajin today evening. “At about 6:30pm, when I was sitting on a shop-front with my friends, suddenly the army soldiers arrived and began firing shells and pellets at people,” he said.
Ajaz was hit by pellets in the firing. The doctor who treated him at Hajin said Ajaz had 70-80 pellets in his forearm. “His condition is stable,” the doctor informed.
Locals said that police and army together ransacked nearly 30 residential houses and broke their windowpanes in Banger Mohalla in Hajin.
In Baramulla district, police fired teargas hells at women who had taken out a protest march from Jamia Mohallah in the old town. Police fired teargas shells at them near the Cement bridge.
In various villages of Kulgam, both men and women continued to take out protests. At Bugam, people staged protests against government forces who had ransacked homes and looted money and household items. A BSNL mobile tower was also set on fire by the troops, the locals said.
In Raban Yaripora in Kulgam, people protested after the house of Sartaj Barkati, head of a local organisation, was ransacked on Monday night. Protests were also held at Mir Bazaar and Nowpora areas in which women also took part.
In Shopian’s Gadapora village where an 11-year-old girl died of heart attack during a police attack on protestors on Monday, massive protests were held.
In Burhan Wani’s hometown Tral in Pulwama district, women took out a protest march from Dar-ul-Uloom and dispersed after marching a distance of 500 meters. On Monday night a candle light protest was also taken out in the area.
In Srinagar city, thousands of people held a protest demonstration at Nowhatta and marched towards Lal Chowk after troop deployments withdrew in the evening. But the march was intercepted by police at Nawa Kadal and teargas shells fired at the people. The shelling led to stone-fighting which was still continuing when this report was filed.
At Pantha Chowk, on the outskirts of Srinagar, a peaceful protestwas taken out in the day that dispersed peacefully.
A journalist was injured at Lawaypora in Srinagar on late Monday evening when protestors attacked with stones the vehicle he was travelling in.
Anees Zargar, who works with a New Delhi-based media company, was returning home from Uri where militants had killed 18 army soldiers and injured another 30.
“I along with several media colleagues was on the way home when our vehicle was attacked late Monday evening,” Anees told Kashmir Life magazine. “When we reached near Chek-i-Hokersar at Lawaypora, near Noor Hospital on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, some protestors attacked our vehicle. I was hit by a stone in my left arm.”
Some stones also hit the OB Van which was following the vehicle.
Anees was rushed to Bone and Joints Hospital in Barzulla where doctors after treating his arm said it had been fractured.
A statement to the press sent by the Hurriyat (G) office said that paramilitary CRPF had cordoned off the residence-cum-office of Syed Ali Geelani at 7:30pm today. “A large contingent of armed personnel of CRPF in armed vehicle has occupied the street at the main gate leading to Geelani Sahab’s residence. Geelani Sahab is already under house arrest since 2010 and a large contingent of Jammu and Kashmir Police is already present here,” the statement said.
According to a spokesman of the Zonal Police Headquarters, Kashmir, the situation in the valley remained under control on Tuesday. “There was no curfew in the valley except the areas under few police stations in Srinagar,” the spokesman said.
“During the past 24 hours, in efforts to curb the activities of miscreants/ hooligans, police arrested 64 people involved in disturbing the situation by damaging civilian vehicles, stopping vehicular traffic and harassing people by placing obstructions on roads,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that two incidents of arson were reported from Srinagar and Shopian. In Vehil in Shopian, a residential house was set on fire while in Srinagar at Batamaloo a bike was set on fire by “miscreants”, the police spokesman said.
“Following the improvement in the situation, curfew was relaxed from today morning (700 hours) till 1800 hours in Rajouri town during which situation remained normal,” the spokesman said.