Awantipora: Government forces on Monday used force to quell student protests – against alleged harassment of students by the police and arrest of a BTech student – here at Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Awantipora area of Pulwama district.
Police fired dozens of tear smoke shells into the university campus, leaving several students with minor injuries and suffocating many others, including the female students of the university.
The deadlock continued from 11:00 AM in the morning till about 7:00 PM in the evening. It ended only after police released four students including the BTech student and three others arrested during the course of the day today.
The BTech student, Musadiq Rashid, and his father Abdul Rashid Bhat were arrested by the police in Awantipora following a firing incident in the area late Thursday night.
As per the police, militants fired at government forces from the house of Abdul Rashid Bhat, near Herpora-Kharmoad in Awantipora.
“No one was injured in the attack. The owner of the house, Abdul Rashid, and his son have been arrested for questioning,” SSP Awantipora Zahid Malik had told Kashmir Reader on Friday.
The students of IUST had held protests for his release on Saturday and vowed to intensify the protests if the student was not released.
What added fuel to the fire today was alleged harassment of some students of the university by police in Pampore in the morning.
According to the students that Kashmir Reader talked to, several students travelling by university buses were harassed by the police at Pampore. “Students were asked to disembark from their vehicles and prove their identity. Personnel from the police SOG asked the students to provide their full details, including addresses and other particulars,” the students alleged.
As per sources in the university, students holding placards and banners were trying to march towards the highway in Awantipora when police arrived and used force to push them back into the campus.
“What followed were daylong clashes as police stayed outside to prevent the students from venturing onto the highway and the students refused to leave unless their fellow student was released,” sources said.
During the course of the day, students said, police fired dozens of tear smoke shells into the university campus. The students retaliated with stone-throwing.
“The police caught hold of three students during the clashes,” sources said.
Demanding release of all the four students now, the protesting students came with their beddings and spread them on the road as they refused to leave the campus.
“Female students and faculty were also holed up within the campus,” sources in the university said.
The deadlock was resolved at about 7:00 PM after police agreed to release the students.
“The issue has been resolved. All four students, including the BTech student, and the three others arrested today have been released,” Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Mushtaq Siddiqui, told Kashmir Reader.
SSP Awantipora Zahid Malik also said the issue has been resolved. He refuted allegations that students were harassed in Pampore today. “These are baseless allegations. We had arrested a student earlier for investigation into a firing incident. We had told students he will be released today but they did not wait for us and started to protest,” Malik said.
He added that the issue was resolved after release of all the four students. “No tear smoke shells were fired into the campus as reported by some sections. Maximum restraint was exercised while handling the protests,” Malik said.