Troops fire pellets on school students in Shopian

Principal says troops entered the school and fired pellets, teargas; in several other areas, students pelt troops with stones and street clashes last for hours
Srinagar/Pulwama/Shopian: Government troops fired pellets and teargas shells at school students in Shopian, injuring at least two of them with pellets, on a day that saw intense clashes between students and government troops in several parts of Kashmir.
In Shopian district, 12 students were injured on Wednesday after government forces barged into the government higher secondary school and fired pellets and teargas shells on protesting students. According to eyewitnesses, the clashes continued for nearly five hours.
The clashes started when the school students tried to march out of the school. Principal of the school, Abdul Majeed, told Kashmir Reader that at first he tried to stop the students from protesting but they refused and chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. “The troops damaged several windows and window panes of the new school building,” he said.
He said that the government troops entered the school premises and fired several pellet rounds and teargas shells on the students.
“I told them to not fire inside the school premises but they refused and beat up Sheeraz Ahmad Teli, a teacher, and injured several students,” the principal said.
Local shopkeepers alleged that the troops beat up 15 shopkeepers and arrested several others. “We were waiting outside our shops when the forces came and beat our fellow shopkeepers ruthlessly,” a group of shopkeeper said.
Eyewitnesses said that after two students were injured in the clashes outside the school, the school students hurled stones at the troops deployed for security outside the residence of the Deputy Commissioner Shopian.
Police denied allegations that they beat any teacher or entered the school premises.
Medical Superintendent of Shopian district hospital, Dr Nazir Ahmad, said that four injured students were treated at the hospital, two of whom had pellet injuries. “The students were later discharged after first-aid treatment,” he said.
According to the students of the school, several students had their pellets removed and injuries treated at private clinics due to apprehension of arrest.
Three private vehicles were also damaged in stone-throwing and shelling during the clashes outside the school. A car and two load-carriers suffered damage when stones and shells hit them.
Clashes later occurred near the old bus stand when students from other schools and colleges threw stones on troops and they retaliated by firing teargas and pellets.
The police also detained two shopkeepers on allegations of shooting a video near the “four-way” in main Shopian town, Deputy Superintendent of Police Headquarters Ashiq Hussain Tak told Reader.
Students of Degree College Pulwama boycotted classes and held a protest inside the campus, the government forces resorting to teargas shelling to halt them from marching towards the main road. The students chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans during their protest and later pelted the troops with stones.
Students in several colleges today even as they had resumed their classes on Monday, a week after the government closed the colleges.
The protesting students, witnesses said, also hoisted a Pakistani flag in the college. The clashes continued for hours, causing a shutdown in the town. Locals said that the troops during the clashes beat up many shopkeepers and passersby.
“One shopkeeper was kicked in his abdomen so forcefully that he was hospitalised,” locals told Kashmir Reader.
Protests and clashes between students and troops also erupted in Bijbehara. Hundreds of students of Degree College Bijbehara, a town that had remained comparatively calm during the past one week, boycotted classes and assembled in the college premises. The students, witnesses said, chanted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans for some time and tried to move out of the college. The college authorities locked the college gate and did not allow the students to march out.
In the afternoon, the college authorities allowed the students to move out in small groups. The students regrouped and held protests in the main town, a kilometre away from the college. The protesting students clashed with troops near Sadar Bazar after the troops attempted to disperse them by lobbing teargas shells.
The clashes later spread to the entire Goriwan market, triggering a complete shutdown.
Heavy stone-pelting was reported from localities in Khrew and Pampore after students of boys’ higher secondary school marched towards Khrew Chowk. The stone-pelting spread to other areas including Namlabal near Astan Chowk, where heavy stone-pelting was reported.
In Srinagar, students marched out of their schools in Soura and Shalimar areas and clashed on the streets with government troops.