Army soldiers attack, vandalise Hajin areas after stone-pelting incident

Army soldiers attack, vandalise Hajin areas after stone-pelting incident
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Hit by bullets in both legs, 25-yr-old to undergo surgery today

Owais Farooqi/Riyaz ul Khaliq

Hajin/Srinagar: Bullets fired by government forces on protestors in Hajin town in north Kashmir’s Bandipora on Wednesday wounded a 25-year-old youth in his legs while five others were injured by pellets.
Residents of Hajin said on Wednesday said that soldiers of the army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles were patrolling Parray and Bon Mohalla areas of Hajin when youth pelted them with stones.
The government forces fired teargas canisters to break up the protests but the youths continued to hurl stones on them.
A resident of Hajin, who identified himself by his middle name, Ahmad, said that “given the hostile atmosphere of the area, forces usually do not patrol the area. They only come when there are specific inputs about militants or to launch a CASO (cordon and search operation).”
Several youths of the area said that it was a planned attack on Hajin residents to punish them for their hostility to the army and their sympathy for militants.
Residents of Hajin said that when the army patrol arrived in Parray Mohalla at about noontime, several youths came out and started hurling stones on it. Irfan, a local youth, said that the army soldiers chased away the youth into the adjoining localities of Kochak Mohalla, Danger Mohalla, Khos Mohalla, Mir Mohalla and Boun Mohalla. At Boun Mohalla, they said, “more than 50 stacks of hay were set on fire by the army with (cigarette) lighters.”
Locals said that the army soldiers smashed everything that came in their way, including vehicles and windowpanes of several houses. Some locals said that army men broke into their houses and smashed the household things.
The block medical officer (BMO) of Hajin, Dr Tariq, said that a youth with a bullet injury in the knee, who was later shifted to SKIMS Bemina in Srinagar, and five other youths with pellet injuries were brought for treatment during the day.
He said the five youths injured by pellets were in stable condition. The driver of a fire tender “sustained head trauma due to severe thrashing,” Dr Tariq said.
Commenting on the Hajin incident, Kashmir Inspector General of Police Munir Khan told Kashmir Reader, “We are investigating as to who pelted stones on the patrolling party. We will also investigate as to who set the grass (stacks) and other things on fire.”
Khan said that “the protestors attacked the emergency fire-fighting vehicles with stones, breaking their window panes and injuring one of the drivers.”
Bandipora Senior Superintendent of Police Zulfikar Azad told Kashmir Raeder that “the army was on a routine patrol in Hajin when youth pelted them with stones and then clashes broke out. In retaliatory action, some youth were injured.”
On the allegations of soldiers burning hay stacks, he said, “Police is still verifying the facts, as it reached the spot some time later after the incident happened.”
Srinagar-based army spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia said, “An area domination patrol of 3 Sector RR was passing through Hajin when it came under heavy stone-pelting by a mob.”
“The patrol party commander cautioned the crowd not to indulge in stone-pelting. However, the mob continued to target the patrol, injuring three soldiers. After giving a final warning, a few rounds were fired in air to disperse the mob and the patrol party moved to its destination,” he said
Doctors at SKIMS Bemina told Kashmir Reader that the youth injured by bullets, identified as Dar Nayeem Ahmad, was brought at 4:21pm.
“He has bullet injuries in both his legs,” Medical Superintendent of JVC Bemina, Dr Shafa, said, and described Dar’s condition as stable.
An on-duty doctor at the hospital said that Dar is under observation and will undergo surgery on Thursday.
“He has been hit by bullets in both his legs,” said one of the doctors attending Dar in the emergency ward of JVC Bemina. “His right knee is fractured as the bullet has pierced through it… the leg has wounds on two sides and it will be operated upon on Thursday,” the doctor, pleading anonymity, told this newspaper later in his chamber.
“His left thigh, too, was hit by bullet but fortunately his fibre is safe,” the doctor added.
The doctor said that the relatives of the injured person have been asked to purchase essential items for his operation. “We will be operating upon Dar on Thursday as he requires at least 4 pints of blood,” he said.
Dar is the eldest among his siblings and is the only breadwinner in his family of eight, he told Kashmir Reader at JVC Bemina while medical tests were being conducted on him.
“I excavate sand from Jhelum (river) which runs through Hajin,” Dar said. “It was around 11:30am when government forces led by the army raided the entire Hajan area and started beating people,” he said.
“He has lost blood but (blood) drip is on,” said one of Dar’s attendants at the hospital, a neighbour whom Dar insisted on calling “my brother”. “They all are my brothers,” Dar said of his attendants.
“The government forces set fire to stacks of dried grass and to cowsheds,” the attendants alleged. “People came out of their homes and the clashes started.”
A youth from Hajin who was attending on Dar said, “We could not go towards the local hospital as the roads were blocked by the government forces. We had to manage a car from a neighbouring mohalla and we rushed Dar to CHC (community health centre) Sumbal, from where he was referred to JVC.”
One of Dar’s attendants said he received a call from Hajin that “police were looking for those who led the protests”.
Dar said that his younger brother Ishfaq, who suffers from a disc problem in his back, was arrested a month ago during a cordon and search operation. “Ishfaq left studies after Class 12,” Dar said. “He is in police custody at Hajin police station.”
“I have another brother who is in school and three sisters,” Dar added. His family lives in Khos Mohalla of Hajin town, he said.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, SHO (station house officer) Hajin, said, “It was a normal patrolling party which came under stone-pelting. It created a law-and-order problem and by the time the police reached the spot, the army had opened fire in the air.”