47 government forces’ personnel among more than 80 wounded in Pattan; anti-govt protests across valley over rape of 3-yr-old in Sumbal
Srinagar/Baramulla/Anantnag: Nearly 50 government forces’ personnel and 34 civilians were wounded in intense stone-throwing clashes across the Valley on Monday, the cause being the horrific rape of a three-year-old girl by her neighbour in Sumbal Bandipora four days ago.
Early in the morning, clashes erupted in areas of central, north and south Kashmir, triggering day-long protests and shutdown. A huge crowd of protesters swarmed the Srinagar-Baramulla highway at Pattan-Narabal corridor. People in large numbers hit the streets at Hygam, Hanjivera, Singpora, Mirgund, and Narbal areas of Pattan in Baramulla and staged protests. Carrying banners and placards, the protestors shouted slogans against the government.
Police along with paramilitary CRPF arrived to deal with the protesters but couldn’t restore the traffic on the strategic national highway, which connects Srinagar to the Line of Control. Soon, stone-throwing clashes began, which continued throughout the day. Police responded with teargas shells and pellets, leaving many injured.
The total number of injured brought to Srinagar hospitals was 34, and one of them belonged to Pattan who sustained critical head injuries caused by pellets.
Medical Superintendent SKIMS Farooq Jan confirmed that the condition of a youth from Pattan was critical. He said that three others admitted to the hospital were stable. The Pattan youth had pellet injuries to his head, he said.
Police said that 47 government forces’ personnel were injured in clashes with the protesting people in Pattan area. In a statement, the police department said, “Miscreants staged protests and pelted stones on the security forces deployed on National Highway on the following locations viz Mirgund, Chainabal, Harthrath, Singhpora, Jheel bridge, Kripalpora Payeen, and Hanjiwera, areas of District Baramulla, resulting in injuries to 47 security forces personnel including an Assistant Commandant of SSB 2nd BN, who was hit on his head.”
The statement added, “Utmost restraint was maintained by the forces on ground, however about seven miscreants got injured who are all stable.”
A commuter who was stuck on the road since 11am described the situation as “horrible”. He said that thousands of people and vehicles were left stranded for the entire day due to the protests. He said civilian traffic was not allowed to ply on the road by the protestors but they smoothly facilitated movement of government forces’ convoys.
In Srinagar, clashes rocked Alamgiri Bazar, Bota Kadal, Saida Kadal and Habba Kadal. People took to the streets and pelted forces with stones in these areas.
In Bandipora, locals came out in thousands from adjoining villages of Inderkoot, Sunburn, Rakhe Shelwat, Shelwat, Zalpora, Nowgam and assembled at Sumbal in the morning, where they sat peacefully, holding placards and banners denouncing the rape. They demanded that the culprit be punished on fast-track basis without any political interference.
The protestors were addressed by religious scholars who hailed the unity of Shia-Sunni brotherhood. The protestors dispersed peacefully in the afternoon.
According to witnesses, a protest by women was also held at Shilwat village in Sumbal.
In south Kashmir, protests occurred in Awantipora, Pulwama, Kakapora, Anantnag and some other places.
In Awantipora, students and faculty of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) assembled within the campus and held a protest demonstration seeking justice for the girl. The protestors held placards and raised slogans demanding hanging of the culprit.
In main town Pulwama, girls of the local government college took to the streets to protest against the rape. They walked in procession through the main town and raised slogans demanding capital punishment to the culprit.
Similar protests were held in Kakapora area of Pulwama district where hundreds of women, children and men took out a huge rally seeking justice for the victim girl.
In Anantnag town, students of the local ITI held protests against the rape.
Meanwhile, many places across south Kashmir observed a spontaneous shutdown against the incident. All commercial establishments remained closed in these areas.
Public transporters and private car owners pasted pamphlets of “Hang the culprit” and “Justice to the girl” on their windshields.
A youth who is currently in police custody, a resident of Malikpora Trigam Shadipora in Bandipora district, is accused of raping the little girl, who belongs to the Shia community, on May 9. The police has constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the incident.
Protests also erupted in Kashmir University as scores of students assembled inside the campus and staged a protest. They were demanding stern punishment to the accused.