Township anger spills onto streets

Township anger spills onto streets

8 injured in protests across Valley

Srinagar: Over a dozen people, including eight policemen, were injured in violent demonstrations Friday against the proposed “composite townships” for migrant Pandits in Kashmir.
The JKLF chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for protests to oppose the move.

A section of Kashmir Pandits demonstrate in Jammu in support of townships. Photo: Kashmir Reader
A section of Kashmir Pandits demonstrate in Jammu in support of townships. Photo: Kashmir Reader

According to reports, as soon as Friday congregational prayers ended, Malik and hundreds of his supporters took out a procession from Maisuma.
Reports said several Kashmiri Hindus participated in the procession. They chanted “together we will live, together we will die,” and “separate colonies unacceptable.”
The police, however, foiled the attempt. Malik and scores of his associates were taken into custody triggering violent clashes in the area.
The clashes, reports said, left around a dozen persons including eight policemen injured. Lensman and Kashmir Reader staffer Abid Bhat suffered nose injury after being hit with a stone.
“The protesters offered stiff resistance and tried to break the cordon. However, the cops swung into action and detained Malik and dozen of his activists before whisking them away in a police van. In the melee Malik also sustained minor injuries,” Suhail Ahmad, a witness told Kashmir Reader.

People protest in Baramulla after Friday prayers. Photo: Kashmir Reader
People protest in Baramulla after Friday prayers. Photo: Kashmir Reader

He said that the detention of JKLF chief angered his supporters, who hurled rocks at the policemen. The policemen, he said, used batons and fired several teargas canisters to chase away the stone pelting boys in the narrow lanes and by lanes of the congested Maisuma locality.
However, a JKLF spokesman said that two dozen people, including JKLF leaders Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri, Showkat Ahmad Dar and Irfan Ahmad were injured in police action.
“Police and CRPF continued with their use of force for hours and stoned windows panes and vehicles that came their way. This unprecedented, unprovoked excessive use of force by police and CRPF terrified people of Lal Chowk who protested against this brutal use of force,” the spokesman said.
He said besides Malik, head priest of Yatri Niwas, Pandit Ajay Kumar Shukla, senior party leaders Showkat Ahmad Bakshi, Noor Mohammad Kalwal, Mohammad Sideeq Shah, Sheikh Abdul Rashid,
Mohammad Amin Mugul and senior Hurriyat leader Mohammad Yousuf Naqash and 60 others were detained.
Earlier, Malik told reporters that he will not allow the Indian state to settle the Kashmiri Pandits in ghettos and create a divide between the two communities. He said any move aimed to settle the Pandits in ghettos will have far reaching consequences and can also lead to civil war.
“We are against the idea of composite townships for the Kashmiri Pandits. This land belongs to them as well. We want them to live side by side with their Muslim brethren with peace and communal harmony,” Malik said.
He said that he will not allow India to create a wall of hatred between the two communities by the creation of separate colonies.

Hurriyat (M) activists and protesters hold placards that say ‘separate townships are not acceptable’ in Srinagar on Friday | Photo: Kashmir Reader
Hurriyat (M) activists and protesters hold placards that say ‘separate townships are not acceptable’ in Srinagar on Friday | Photo: Kashmir Reader

“Ask any Kashmiri Pandit who have been living here with us whether they ever felt threatened. Are not they living happily?” he said.
He said if the government of India is sincere over the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland, then land should be provided to the families at their original places, instead of building settlements.
A protest rally was also taken out by the activists of Hurriyat Conference (G) from Iqra Masjid, Sarai Bala after Friday prayers. The protesters shouting anti-India slogans passed through the interiors before dispersing peacefully near the shrine of Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani. Reports of protests were also received from Barzulla and Mochou.
Students of various departments also held a protest in the Kashmir University campus over the township proposal that has evoked sharp criticism from pro-freedom and pro-India groups.
Carrying placards that read “Yes to homecoming, no to settlements,” “say no to ghettoization,” “PDP on the footsteps of Netanyahu” “PDP= Likud Party” and chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the students alleged that India was working on the footsteps of Israel by planning settlements for the displaced Pandits.
Minor clashes were also reported from Kawdara area of the downtown here.
Protests over the proposed Pandit townships were also reported from the twin towns of Sopore and Baramulla of north Kashmir.
Reports said that hundreds of people after offering congregational Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid, Baramulla took out a peaceful rally denouncing the government’s decision to build townships for the Pandit community members. The peaceful protests passed through different areas before reaching Tashkent Chowk, where Abdul Majeed Dar, Tehsil President of Syed Ali Shah Geelani led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat addressed the gathering.
A group of people also protested against the proposed township in the restive Palhalan town of the district, where most business establishments were closed amid apprehensions of violent clashes. However, the protesters later dispersed peacefully.
Later in the evening, youth assembled at the Main Chowk, Palhalan and engaged the police and CRPF deployments in pitched battles. The ding-dong clashes continued for some time. However, no one was hurt.
Earlier, groups of youth appeared in the main town of Sopore and pelted rocks on the picket of CRPF 179 battalion manning the state bank of India. The forces, reports said, burst teargas canisters after failing to chase angry protesters with batons. The clashes continued for several hours. However, no one was reported to be hurt.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said that eight policemen were injured in stone pelting incidents in Maisuma and Kawdara localities of Srinagar and Palhallan in Baramulla district.
“Situation remained normal across the valley,” the spokesman said.