February 2001 News

Violent protests in Kashmir, 100 hurt on Day 2

17 February 2001
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Jammu: Violent protests against Thursday’s Army firing on a peaceful demonstration at Haigam, north-western Kashmir, continued for the second consecutive day on Friday with huge crowds taking to the streets almost everywhere in Srinagar. The police and paramilitary forces had a difficult time dealing with the situation. The police and hospital sources said more than 100 people, including many policemen, were injured in the day-long clashes between mobs and the security forces. The police fired teargas canisters and rifles in the air to disperse the slogan-raising protesters, who, in violation of curfew restrictions, poured onto the streets at Maisuma, Safa Kadal, Batamalloo, Natipora and a number of localities in congested old Srinagar. Maisuma, where one person was killed and three others wounded in firing on Friday, was relatively calm. BSF personnel deployed in strength before dawn enforced a strict curfew in the area. [Two persons, identified as Farooq Ahmed Gujri and Riyaz Ahmed Butt, sustained bullet wounds when a person opened fire in Kaka Sarai-Chattabal area of Srinagar. One report said the assailant and another person accompanying him were renegades working for the police. Local residents claimed a (senior grade) police constable, Abdur Rashid Parray, working with the state police’s Special Operations Group at Budgam in central Kashmir, was responsible for injuring the two, one of whom was playing cricket. The police said they were investigating the incident but insisted that it had nothing to do with the ongoing stir over the Haigam incident.] In Baramulla, huge processions were taken out to mourn and protest the death of half-a-dozen civilians in the firing at Haigam. While the protestors were returning to the main town bazaar, some youths threw stones at a makeshift CRPF camp. The security personnel fired warning shots in the air to discourage the crowd. The biggest protest demonstration, however, was held at Haigam itself. Reports said more than 40,000 people, including women, came to Haigam from neighbouring villages and towns to join locals in demonstrations which continued throughout the day. Given the volatile situation, the police or administration did not stop anybody from entering the village 45 km northwest of Srinagar. The protestors, demanding the arrest of the Army captain and his colleagues responsible for Thursday’s firing deaths, also squatted on the Srinagar-Baramulla and Sangrama-Sopore roads. Since the Valley observed a complete shutdown on Saturday, no vehicle passed through the area. Security force officers had given instructions to their men, other than those permanently deployed in the area, to avoid the place so that the anger among the people was not directed at them physically.


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