Srinagar: Five persons were injured after the army men fired upon protestors who were agitating against a ‘braid chopping’ incident at Walarhama area of Pahalgam in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
According to sources, the braid of a local woman was chopped off in the morning and as the news spread in the area, people came on roads and started protesting against the administration for failing to curb the increased incidents of braid chopping in the area.
Sources said that at around 7:00 am an alleged braid chopping attempt was made on one Shareefa W/o Zulfiqar Ahmad in Sofi Pora area of Wulerhama.
As people tried to nab the alleged braid chopper army allegedly rushed to his rescue triggering protests in the area, they said.
“The soldiers from the RR camp Salar came to the rescue of the braid chopper as people were about to get hold of him,” a protestor said. He said that the armymen who arrived at the scene did not fire any warning shots but fired on the protestors.
Sources said people pelted stones at an army vehicles and the soldiers in return fired bullets injuring at least five persons.
The soldiers in return fired bullets and tear smoke shells injuring at least 12 persons.
The injured have been identified as Farooq Ahmad, Zahoor Ahmad, Irshad Ahmad, Zahid, Mohammad Ashraf and Mukhtar Ahmad.
Eyewitnesses said that four others also suffered minor injuries due to tear smoke shells.
All injured were shifted to District Hospital Anantnag where their condition is said to be stable.
Later in the day, the Srinagar based Defence PRO said that a mob which had gathered near Walarom (Pahalgam) blocked the road when an Army patrolling party was passing through the area.
“The party commander requested the mob to give way. However, some instigators baselessly alleged that a Braid-chopper had mounted the Army vehicle and started closing in on the Army column. The party commander at this point warned the crowd and fired a few rounds in air to disperse the crowd. In the meantime, Company Commander’s Party also arrived at the venue and made repeated appeals to the mob to keep away and let the army patrol to proceed. The mob started heavy stone-pelting on Army vehicle and personnel and started moving dangerously close to the troops. After Company Commander gave a final warning, the troops first fired in air, but when the crowd didn’t relent and continued to throw stones causing injury to troops, he was left with no option but to open fire at them in self defence exercising utmost restraint to minimise casualty,” the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, the authorities ordered closure of all the schools for the day in the area. They also blocked the mobile internet services in South Kashmir to prevent any ‘rumour mongering’.
Meanwhile, in north Kashmir Sopore three persons were thrashed last night after people accused them of being braid choppers.
Sources said that three persons were caught in Khushaal Matoo area of the town at around midnight.
Accusing them of being braid cutters they were beaten to pulp.
However, police said that that the nabbed persons were burglars not braid cutters.
Meanwhile, in Mehjoor Nagar area of Srinagar, protests erupted after braid of a woman was chopped off in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Sources said that youth took to the streets after the incident and blocked the road which government forces tried to foil leading to the clashes. The youth pelted stones on the forces and they retaliated by firing tear smoke shells.
The protesters were demanding strict action against the culprits involved in the incidents.
Meanwhile, in Chattabal area of the city a braid chopping incident was foiled by the victim after she pushed the masked men when they tried to chop off her hair. The girl raised an alarm which forced the braid choppers to flee from the spot. Following the incident, locals staged a protest to demand the arrest of the accused.
Two more incidents of braid chopping were reported from Khansahab area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Wednesday.
Reports said that the first incident was reported from Shamsabad area of the district where a girl students was attacked in the courtyard of her house while the second one took place in Iqbal Colony area of Khansahab.
Meanwhile, a Special Police Officer (SPO) Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Beerwah, was thrashed by people in the town after being mistaken as a braid chopper. He was later rescued by the police.