Student protests rock Kashmir, leave many injured



SRINAGAR: Massive protests rocked Kashmir on Wednesday as students clashed with the forces at colleges disrupting the class work. Situation continued to remain grim as students protests refused to die down and the clashes with forces continued in the North, Central and South Kashmir areas against the police action on students in Pulwama College on April 15.

On Wednesday even as the class work was suspended in three government schools- SP Higher Secondary School, Girls HSS Kothi Bagh and MP model HSS, as precautionary measure to avoid student protests.

Student protests erupted in Bandipora, Shopian, Pulwama and Ganderbal. Campuses had erupted in protests on April 17, across Kashmir as students expressed solidarity with those of Pulwama College, forcing government to order suspension of class work from April 18 to April 22, as “precautionary measure” to avoid student protests.

The protests however, spread to higher secondary schools even after the government ordered suspension of teaching work in colleges. The widespread protests have kept the government machinery on toes to normalize the situation and begin class work in all the schools and colleges.

“The government must think of some out of box solution to motivate the students to end their protests. The situation is worsening with each passing day. Instead of ordering closure of educational institution, government should talk to students and address their grievances,” an official said wishing not to be named.

 What has come as challenge for the government is the participation of girl students in stone pelting with the police.

Earlier on Monday, when the government had opened colleges after a week, student protests by SP Higher Secondary School (HSS) continued which later spread to Women’s College MA road here. The situation deteriorated after girl students from Kothi Bagh, after leaving from schools at 3 pm, participated in the ongoing clashes and staged anti-India and pro-freedom protests.

Following the clashes, district administration ordered suspension of class work in SP HSS, Kothi Bagh Girls HSS and MP HSS in Srinagar for today as a precautionary measure.

Students in Bandipora, Shopian and Pulwama districts continued their protests against the thrashing of their fellow ones of Pulwama College. The students including boys and girls of government degree college Pulwama staged pro-freedom protests inside the premises.

The protesting students were shouting pro-freedom slogans, eye witnesses said. Also, students of government boy’s Higher Secondary school (HSS) hit streets and staged anti-government protests. The students of the college held massive protests inside the college premises and raised Pakistani flags on the administrative block of college as well as chanting pro-freedom slogans, a student of government Degree College said. He said that police did not go near the college, however, the students later marched upto the Murran chowk of the town where a heavy contingent of police stopped their protests.

Angry students pelted stones on forces who retaliated with tear smoke shells, triggering clashes for more than one hour An eyewitness said soon shopkeepers pulled down their shutters as the clashes intensified and spread to other areas. Four students were reportedly injured in forces action in Pulwama.

Hospital sources that they received four students who were injured in action of forces, while in at least 8 students sustained injuries after government forces allegedly barged into the Higher Secondary School Shopian, premises and fired pellets on protesting students. Local sources said that a heavy contingent of police and other forces chased the protesting students during clashes into the government higher secondary school.

They said that forces entered into the institution and fired pellets on students injuring many. Students alleged that forces even beat one of the teachers in the school. Sources in District Hospital Shopian said they received 4 injured students.

However, police strongly denied the allegations that they beat any teacher or entered the school premises. In Pampore clashes between government forces and students erupted after hundreds of students of Boys Higher Secondary School Pampore marched towards Khrew Chowk in Drangbal area and pelted stones on forces triggering clashes.

This led to a shutdown in the area. However there is no report of injury from Pampore area The students of Government Degree College Bijbehara, in Anantnag district held protests against force’s “highhandedness’’ for some time however they dispersed peacefully. Protests were also held by students of Government Degree College Kulgam. Meanwhile, stone pelting and heavy teargas shelling incident was reported from Goriwan Chowk Bijbehara as youth pelted stones on forces triggering clashes and soon shopkeepers pulled down their shutters.

There is no report of injury, but the stone pelting amid heavy teargas shelling was going when reports last came in.

 Eye witnesses said the police which was deployed in the area however used tear gas shells to stop students from taking out protest march towards the market, triggering clashes. Later, a shutdown was observed in the area after students fought pitched battles with police forcing shopkeepers to down their shutters.

Dozens of students from Nadim Memorial Higher Secondary school (NMHSS) in Kaloosa area of Bandipora district also staged protest in solidarity with the Pulwama college students. Witnesses said that students took out a protest march from NMHSS towards the main market and also hurled stones on the shops. Raising pro-freedom and anti-government slogans students marched through the main market and assembled at Gulshan Chowk. Clashes erupted in Ganderbal after police foiled a protest march by students from government degree college Ganderbal. Reports said the students boycotted their classes and staged protest inside the college premises and later tried to march towards market. However, police foiled their march by bursting teargas shells, triggering clashes.

Meanwhile, the district administration Srinagar has decided to suspend the class work in government schools which have been designated as exam centres for the graduate level service selection recruitment board (SSRB) exams scheduled on Thursday.

A top official in district administration Srinagar said the school authorities have been asked to keep class work suspended in view of the exams on Thursday.

“There will be no class work in the schools where SSRB has set up exams centres for the aspirants appearing in the exams for their selection in various government departments,” the official said.

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