BUDGAM/ SHOPIAN/ BANDIPORA: Two students, one of them a female, were hit by shells on their face, the male student having to be shifted to SMHS Srinagar, after student protests over the Kathua rape and murder once again turned violent across Kashmir on Thursday. Locals said that government forces beat students even inside the Sub District Hospital Chadoora when they tried to take refuge there. An official at the hospital said the forces beat up hospital staff when they were treating the injured students and fired teargas shells into the hospital premises.
In Shopian, massive clashes between government forces and students, who were joined by local youths, left 18 youths injured. Two of them had to be referred to SMHS Hospital in Srinagar. In Ajas area of Bandipora district, students, policemen and shopkeepers were injured in clashes that caused the markets to close and traffic to go off the roads. In Baramulla, Sopore, Uri, Rafiabad, students blocked roads, raised slogans, and hurled stones at police and paramilitary. Reports said that two students were detained by police in Deluna area of Baramulla.
Even though the authorities had closed all colleges and higher secondary schools in the entire Kashmir Valley, scores of students of tuition centres and coaching centres gathered on streets to hold protests and pelt government forces with stones. In Shopian, such students took out a rally in the morning to demand capital punishment for the rapists and murderers of the Kathua minor girl. They clashed with government forces at the Four-Way near Batpora Chowk. Soon after, clashes broke out in other parts of the town, including at Gol Chowk, New Bus Stand, Court Road, Bongam, and Bonbazar. At Gol Chowk, protesters raised the Pakistan flag and posters of militants were pasted on walls. According to eyewitnesses, as many as 30 persons were injured in the clashes but most of them were treated locally.
In Budgam, Block Medical Officer Chadoora Dr Dilaer said that two students were brought to Sub-District Hospital Chaddora with shell injuries on their face, among them a girl student, who was given three stitches in the upper area of her nostril before she was sent home.
He said that the injured male student, Aasif Quyoom of Gowharpora, was hit in his eye by a shell and was later shifted to SMHS hospital for further treatment.
Earlier, students of Polytechnic College Nagam, higher secondary schools, and a few other schools held a joint protest against the Kathua rape and murder. They marched towards the main Chadoora town where they were confronted by government forces. “The forces hurled stones and teargas shells on them, in response to which the students hurled stones and soon intense clashes began,” said an eyewitness.
Sources said that the forces retaliated with massive teargas shelling and lathi-charge on both male and female students, injuring a dozen of them. Eyewitnesses said that the forces thrashed several girl students ruthlessly.
They added that when the students entered the premises of Sub District Hospital Chadoora to take shelter, the forces followed them and beat them even inside the hospital premises. An official of the hospital said that the forces thrashed even the hospital staff when they were treating the injured students in the casualty ward. He added that the forces fired many tear gas shells inside the hospital premises, which created panic among the other patients.
A police official in Budgam did not respond to phone calls by Kashmir Reader.
Protests were later held by students in Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam against the police assault on students in Chadoora.
In Ajas area of Bandipora, police used teargas shells to disperse protesting students who, carrying placards and shouted slogans demanding death sentence for the Kathua culprits, pelted policemen with stones, witnesses said. The clashes led to a shutdown in Ajas town as clashes continued in the area for some time. A special police officer (SPO), Danish, Head Constable Shabrooz, and two other policemen sustained injuries during the clashes, an official said. Locals said that four students and two shopkeepers were injured by stones and tear smoke shells.
In main Bandipora town, high school students, both boys and girls, marched from Mantrigam village towards Bandipora district headquarters. When they reached the sports stadium, women police dispersed the girl students after a mild lathi-charge.
In Deluna area of Baramulla, students began holding street protests in the morning. They reached the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad national highway and tried to block it. Teams of police and CRPF reached the spot and chased them away. Some students hurled stones at the forces but police managed to restore traffic movement on the highway. Sources said that two students were detained by police.
In Boniyar area of border town Uri, students of different schools took to the streets and held protests against the Kathua culprits. Boys and girls marched to different markets of the town and demanded the death penalty for the culprits. They dispersed peacefully later.
In Ceelo area of Sopore, school students blocked the Kupwara-Sopore road for some time.
In Dangiwocha area of Rafiabad, local traders shut their shops to protest against police action on protesting students. They said that a peaceful protest was held by students in the area on Wednesday but government forces used excessive force against the students due to which several students were injured.
In Baramulla town, heavy deployment of police and paramilitary was made around educational institutions. Some locals alleged that a few college students were detained by police on Wednesday and they have yet not been released.
In Tangmarg, members of civil society, transporters, shopkeepers, fruit growers and the fruit dealers’ association took out a peaceful protest march to demand justice for the Kathua rape and murder victim. They assembled in the main market and protested peacefully against the gruesome rape and murder in Kathua.
—With inputs from Owais Farooqi, Ishfaq Reshi, Mohammad Sohail, Mushtaq Ahmad & Raashid Hassan