Army, CRPF ‘barge into Sumbal college, beat up students and fire teargas’; Women’s College students hurl stones at police in Srinagar
Srinagar: undreds of students across Kashmir valley came out on streets on Wednesday to protest against the killing of four civilians in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. The Station House Officer (SHO) of Baramulla police station, Khalid Ahmed, was injured during clashes with college students outside Government Degree College Baramulla. Ahmed was shifted to District Hospital Baramulla from where he was referred to SKIMS Srinagar for further treatment. Reports said that a student also sustained injuries in the clashes. The college administration had to suspend class work for the day.
Army and CRPF troops allegedly “barged into” Government Degree College Sumbal in Bandipora district and beat up some students. They also fired teargas inside the college premises due to which several female students fainted, teachers and students of the college said.
The college is located a stone’s throw from the CRPF 45Bn camp and the army’s 13 RR camp near Irrigation Colony Sumbal. Teachers at the college said that the army provoked the students to clash with them by breaking through the college gate when students were shouting slogans in favour of Azadi and against civilian killings in Kulgam.
“Three students were beaten ruthlessly by the army after they forcibly broke into the college premises. They also used tear smoke shells which left many female students unconscious, creating panic and chaos in the college,” an assistant professor at the college told Kashmir Reader.
Teachers added that the government troops were so aggressive that they couldn’t even dare to rescue the students and instead fled to protect themselves.
A college student said, “An army man first climbed the wall and entered the college. He then opened the gate and a cavalcade of bullet-proof vehicles came in. The army personnel chased the youth and caught some of them, whom they beat ruthlessly.”
A professor at the college said, “We escaped from the back side of the college as the government forces kept us restricted to our college buildings. They were inside the campus and at the gates.”
Later, police came and the army troops left the college, students and teachers said.
In Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, dozens of female students of Women’s College and a few students of nearby Sri Pratap (SP) College came out on the roads chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that the Women’s College students were initially let out of the institution in ones and twos by their principal from the rear side so as to prevent any protest. But as soon as the principal opened the main college gate, students came out in large numbers and began shouting slogans. “After seeing the protest outside the college, the principal requested the protesting students to leave the spot, but they did not listen to her,” one student who was watching the protests said.
Eyewitnesses said that after the protests intensified, a police team consisting of both male and female personnel fired tear smoke shells and pepper spray to disperse the protesters after stones were hurled at them. A girl student was injured after a stone hurled at a police vehicle rebounded and hit her head. “She was taken to SHMS hospital for treatment,” an eyewitness said, adding that she got three stitches.
Witnesses also said that a few male students resorted to stone-pelting in Maisuma area. They said police fired tear-smoke shells to disperse the students.
Students of Islamia College of Science and Commerce also held protests and clashed with the police. “College authorities asked us to leave the campus while we were studying,” a student said. She said that girls were taken out from the gate near the boys’ hostel while boys were taken out from the main gate. “After suspension of class work, there were minor clashes,” she added.
Kashmir University reverberated with slogans of Aazadi after news of the civilian killings in Kulgam. Witnesses said students from various departments assembled outside the Humanities block under the banner of Kashmir University Students Union. The students marched towards the administrative block chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The students later also participated in a demonstration that was scheduled for the day to demand justice for Kathua girl Asifa who was raped and murdered in a temple. The students demanded that the trial of the case be shifted to Kashmir from Jammu.
Student protests erupted in the campus of National Institute of Technology (NIT) Hazratbal, where reports said scores of students marched through the campus and later assembled in the NIT lawn and shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. The protesting students, reports said, dispersed peacefully.
Student protests and clashes took place in several areas of north Kashmir. In Sopore, students hurled stones on government forces, raised pro-freedom slogans, and tried to block vehicular movement on the roads. Eyewitnesses said that soon after clashes broke out, additional forces were deployed in the area.
The principal of Government Degree College Sopore, Mushtaq Ahmad, said that class work was suspended in the college. “We received orders from Sopore administration to suspend class work in our college for a day, as a precautionary measure,” Ahmad said.
Reports said that students of Government Degree College Handwara tried to block the national highway outside the college. When police tried to disperse them, clashes ensued. Reports said that students shouted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and hurled stones on government forces, who lobbed tear gas shells at them to disperse them. No injury to any student was reported in these clashes.
Students of GDC Bandipora, both boys and girls, took out a rally and marched peacefully from the college premises towards the road near Patushahi village, an eyewitness said. Minor skirmishes were witnessed between police and students at Kaloosa area.
Reports from Palhallan area of Pattan said that after minor clashes between local youths and government forces, shopkeepers closed their shops.
Students of government higher secondary school at Naidkhai in Bandipora district also held protests in the campus of their institutions.
Student protests were reported from some areas of south Kashmir. Eyewitnesses said that students hurled stones on government forces in Pulwama. Protests were also held at Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) Awantipora. Reports claimed that students threw stones on government forces who responded by firing tear smoke shells to disperse them.