ZIA-UL-HAQ / SHAFAT MIR
ANANTNAG: The entry of an army vehicle in the premises of Government Degree College Pulwama on Wednesday triggered massive pro-freedom protests by the students who also attacked the army vehicle with stones.
Witnesses said that at about 12:30pm, an army Casper vehicle entered the college when classes were being held. As soon as the army vehicle entered the premises, the students came out of the classes and began throwing stones at the vehicle. The stone-throwing continued for about ten minutes, damaging glass panes of the army vehicle. “The stone throwing forced the army men to reverse their vehicle and leave the premises,” a student told Kashmir Reader. Even after the army vehicle had moved out of the premises, the angry students continued shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The students refused to return to the classes and asked the college administration to clarify as to how the army men had entered the college premises. “It was only after the college authorities assured the students of taking up the matter with the district administration and the district police, that the angry students ended their protest,” said a faculty member. A teacher at the college accused the army of barging into the college.“We don’t know what the intention of the army men was. Their sudden presence in the college triggered stone-throwing protests and affected the class work for more than an hour. We clearly told the agitating students that we are as helpless as they are and somehow managed to pacify them,” the college teacher told Reader.
Defence spokesperson Rajesh Kalia said that the army had an appointment with the college principal. “We had sought prior appointment with the college principal on the matter of organising a youth debate in the college. But as soon as our vehicle entered the college premises, students pelted stones. Some of our men suffered minor injuries in the stone attack,” Kalia told Reader.
He said that the army men exercised restraint and reversed their vehicle to prevent the situation from turning volatile.
College principal Abdul Hamid denied any appointment with the army. “The army men had actually approached the principal of the women’s college, who, in order to avoid them, gave them my number. I received a call from some army official who sought appointment in connection with organising some programme in the college. I told them that I will let them know after holding a meeting with my faculty members and seeking their suggestions. But minutes after I dropped the phone, the army vehicle appeared in the college premises,” Hamid told Kashmir Reader.