Pulwama: Dozens of students of Government Degree College (Boys) Pulwama were injured on Saturday in clashes with government forces that erupted over the presence of a CRPF vehicle near the college. Witnesses said that special operations group (SOG) of police and CRPF in the afternoon laid a naka outside the college and placed two armoured vehicles near the college gate.
College insiders said students apprehended that police had come to arrest some student in connection with the stone throwing protests that had erupted there two days ago after the army vehicle had entered college premises. This prompted students to assemble and march towards the forces vehicles resulting into clashes. The forces fired teargas shells and pellets on the students after they were attacked with stones by the students.
Students and teachers alleged that the forces lobbed tearsmoke canisters into the college premises creating a chaotic situation in the college. During the clashes over fifty students including some girl students suffered injuries. Scores of girl students studying in the college fell unconscious during the chaos. “The police at the gate started firing tear smoke shells in retaliation when many students resorted to stone-pelting,” said a student, adding that the police carried out “excesses” against the students.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Pulwama told Kashmir Reader that about 54 students injured in clashes were brought to the District Hospital (DH) Pulwama of whom six were shifted to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Newa.
The CMO said that five among the injured students were referred to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in Srinagar.
“Four persons from DH Pulwama and one from PHC Newa have been shifted to SMHS,” the CMO said.
Students who spoke to Kashmir Reader alleged that the college administration did not intervene to prevent the occurrence of such a situation in the college.
Principal of the college, Abdul Hamid, however, accused the police of being responsible for creating the trouble.
“I am surprised on how can’t our police understand the sensitivity of a place like college. Even if some students had pelted students on an army vehicle, why can’t police understand that where there are 2000 students comprising of girls too, how can they create such a panic among students,” he told Kashmir Reader.
Hamid said that police did not listen to his repeated requests to leave the college premises.
“I saw some students scaling the walls of the college as the police vehicles had stopped outside. As I was trying to pacify students and asking them to return to classes, two Rakshak armoured vehicles all of a sudden entered into the college premises and started firing tear gas shells. In the melee I approached these policemen and I literally begged and asked them to leave the spot but they didn’t listen to me, which aggravated the situation,” the college principal said.
Superintendent of Police Pulwama Mohammad Rayees Bhat told Kashmir Reader that the students had pelted stones on troops who had laid a checkpoint two hundred meters away from the gate of Pulwama College.
“The students threw stones on the CRPF and police personnel who, in retaliation, fired tear gas canisters to prevent the situation from getting worse,” Bhat said, adding that more policemen were sent to contain the violence. He said 16 policemen, including an officer, were injured during the clashes.
Later in the day, many parents assembled near the principal’s office and accused him of collaborating with security forces. They also questioned the need for the checkpoint that was laid near the college where only a few days before stones were pelted on government forces.
A police spokesperson said, some “miscreants” started pelting stones at nake party, around 200 meters away from the college. “To handle the stone pelting a reinforcement was rushed to the spot. The mob swelled as more students joined and pelted stones on the forces,” it said.
“In this incident some miscreants and police personnel were injured. One was referred to Srinagar hospital where his condition is stable. The District Police administration has clarified that no raids were conducted and video being shared on social networking groups is not from Pulwama,” it added.