Student protests continue

Student protests continue
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8 cops injured in clashes with students in Anantnag

Anantnag: At least eight policemen were injured in clashes with students of Government Degree College (Boys) in Khannabal area of Anantnag on Monday. Police had to enter the college along with officials of the civil administration to make the students vacate the college in the afternoon. Sources said that during the clashes, students hurled stones at the Superintendent of Police’s office, the Deputy Commissioner’s residence, a nearby army camp, and at vehicles plying in the area. They said police detained several students and at least four students were injured in the clashes that began at 11am and ended at about 3.30pm when policemen entered the college and had it vacated.
At Lal Chowk area of the town, a lone CRPF vehicle stuck in the traffic was pelted with stones by a group of youths, whereupon CRPF men fired pellets and a youth was injured. He was rushed to District Hospital Anantnag, from where he was discharged after treatment.
In Pulwama, minor clashes were reported outside the police station in the main town. “Two stone-pelters were arrested, following which things returned to normal,” a police source told Kashmir Reader.
In Murran area of Pulwama, the army came under stone-pelting when they were conducting a “census” in the area. The army made announcements regarding their nature of work in the area but the protests refused to die down for a while.
All those injured during the clashes in Anantnag are said to be in stable condition and have been discharged from the district hospital after treatment.
As per reports, students of GDC Anantnag took out a protest rally outside the college, and efforts by government forces to push them back into the college led to stone-pelting by students. Police had to fire tear smoke shells to control the situation.
The protests were held a day after the state government ordered closure of all tuition centers in the Valley for school students for three months, in an apparent move to drive students back to schools.
SSP Anantnag Altaf Khan told Kashmir Reader that the police repeatedly requested the students to go back to their classes, but to no avail.
“I talked to the principal, who assured me that the students will leave once the police deployment is withdrawn. But after I withdrew my men, the students tried to block the Khannabal Chowk and the stone-pelting intensified,” Khan said.
He said that at about 3:15pm, the police entered the college along with officials from the civil administration and made the students vacate the college.
“Some stone-pelting students have also been detained,” he said. “Also, 8 to 10 of our men, including my operator, have been injured.”
About the incident at Lal Chowk area, Khan said that some youth pelted a lone CRPF vehicle with stones. “The CRPF men fired pellets, injuring a youth. The situation returned to normal soon after that,” Khan said.
In Shopian, College students hurled stones at government forces guarding the Shopian District Court complex and at a bunker of government forces outside the Government Degree College (GDC) Shopian in Gagren area, in clashes during which three students sustained minor pellet injuries, on Monday. Police sources said that despite appeals by them to students to stop hurling stones, the students did not relent, forcing a joint team of police and paramilitary to use tear smoke shells against them.
The clashes later spread to Batpora Chowk, Gol Chowk and Gagren areas of the town. Doctors at sub-district hospital Shopian told Kashmir Reader that three students with minor pellet injures were brought to the hospital and they were later discharged after treatment.
Despite the clashes in major areas of the town, there was no shutdown and offices and markets stayed open.
In the afternoon, students of GDC clashed with government forces in Gagren, outside the college. They hurled stones on the bunker of special operation group of the police at Gagren. In retaliation, government forces fired tear smoke shells and stun grenades to disperse the students.
A top police officer in Shopian said that some minor clashes were reported at two places, but the protests were contained peacefully.
In Baramulla, scores of students of government higher secondary school (HSS) for boys in Baramulla clashed with police deployed outside the school on Monday. Sources said that more than two dozen students and policemen were injured in the clashes, and that police detained about four dozen students from the school premises.
The school students had started shouting anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans from within the school premises at the policemen standing in front of the school gate. The students also raised slogans against the Kathua rape and murder and demanded death to the culprits. The school management closed all the exit points and restrained the students within the school premises for hours, but in the afternoon the students poured out, hurling stones and bricks at policemen. Due to the stone-pelting, several parked vehicles outside the school were damaged.
After police used teargas shells to control the protests, several students fainted from the teargas smoke.
A police officer talking to media persons unofficially outside the school said in exasperation, “All the accused persons (of the Kathua rape and murder) are in jail, the case is in court, the government is bringing in death penalty for the culprits, then why are the students protesting? What is the fun in protesting? If the government had released the culprits, then people could have protested, but this case is in court and the accused are in jail, then why the protests?”
Soon after the clashes, the authorities deployed scores of police and CRPF men outside other schools, including the girls’ higher secondary school, to avoid any untoward situation. The authorities of the girl’s higher secondary school shut the school before time and let out the students from the back gate in small groups.
Reports from the neighbouring Sopore town said that students of Jamia Qadeem Sopore took out a protest march from the Iqbal Market towards the General Bus Stand, after which minor clashes broke out between them and police.
Local sources said that students of Law College Sopore also took to the streets and held protests against the Kathua rape and murder. Displaying posters and banners, they marched through different lanes outside the college and later dispersed peacefully.
Similarly, students of Government Higher Secondary School Palhalan took out a protest rally on Monday morning against the Kathua crime and later dispersed peacefully.
In Hajin area of Bandipore, hundreds of students of ML Hajin Higher Secondary School took out a protest march against the Kathua rape and murder. Students boycotted their classes and assembled outside the school in the morning, from where they proceeded to march, raising slogans in favour of the killed minor girl in Kathua and demanding justice.
Reports of student protests and marches were also received from Saderkote and Ajas areas of Bandipora. The protesting students were demanding death penalty to the culprits.
Meanwhile, students of Government Degree College Pampore reached the college in large numbers even though the college had been closed by the authorities, to hold protests against the Kathua rape and murder. The college management had to pacify the students, both male and female, who raised slogans and later took out a protest rally in the town. Witness told Kashmir Reader that scores of women students of GDC Pampore held a large protest at Khrew Chowk Drangbal.
Later, the students dispersed peacefully after the college authorities reached the spot.
The district administrations had suspended class work in higher secondary schools and colleges in entire Pulwama district on Monday.
—With inputs from Raashid Hassan, Bilal Habib and Mushtaq Ahmad