40 Injured In Pulwama, Sopore Clashes
13 September 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Forty persons, including 15 Police personnel, today sustained injuries when residents of Chakora village in Pulwama district clashed with security forces during a cordon-and-search operation and students of a Government college attempted to stage yet another protest demonstration over the controversial killing of their colleague in Sopore. Informed sources told EXCELSIOR that residents of Kolpora Chakora in Pulwama district turned violent and clashed with security forces when rumours spread that some soldiers had molested four young girls during the course of a cordon-and-search operation. Sources said that a 16-year-old girl, Ruqqaya, went unconscious which led to eruption of a massive uproar and protest. It was in the course of this melee that troops of Rashtriya Rifles 55 Bn roughed up scores of people and thrashed them with the allegation that they had attempted to snatch away the rifle of a jawan. While non-official reports said that 55 persons and three soldiers sustained injuries, officials maintained that 20 to 25 persons were injured. According to official sources, Ruqqaya is a cardiac patient who became reportedly unconscious. She was rushed to District Hospital Pulwama and subsequently referred to SKIMS Soura. Even as the residents alleged that the soldiers resorted to mass beating of the civilians taken out for unending identification parade on the third consecutive day today without any reason, Army's spokesman Lt Col A K Mathur insisted that the search operation had been launched after troops learned about the presence of four to six militants in the village. He said that some people spread rumours that led to intermittent clashes between a couple of soldiers and residents who, according to him, made an attempt to snatch away a soldier's gun. Col Mathur said that the allegations of molestation and rape on four women were completely baseless and the same had led to the situation in which some youth attempted to snatch away the rifle of a soldier. Residents said that troops had been repeatedly appearing in the village for three days and subjecting them to daylong identification parades. DC Pulwama Meraj Ahmed Kakroo, who visited the injured civilians at Pulwama hospital, confirmed to mediapersons that about 20 to 25 people had sustained injuries in the clash. He said that Ruqqaya was a cardiac patient who had gone unconscious due to high temperature and being under open skies. He has said that Police had registered a case and SSP Pulwama would hold an inquiry into the allegations and complaints of the civilian population. He disputed reports and accusations that troops had committed excesses on the womenfolk. Reports from Sopore said that over a hundred students of Degree College clashed with Police over the controversial killing of their colleague, Mohammad Ramzan Shah of Dangiwacha in a military operation at Sherhama, Mawar, in Handwara area. Reports said that on the third consecutive day, violent clashes took place between the Police and students in which 15 to 20 people's, including about a dozen personnel, sustained injuries. Reports said that SP Sopore and SHO Sopore were among the 20-odd people who sustained minor injuries. Students said that they wanted to visit Shah's home in a procession but were subjected to heavy baton charge and tearsmoke shelling and prevented from proceeding to Dangiwacha. Police officials, on the other hand, said that the procession of students started pelting stones on shops and public transport which forced Police to use force and disperse the demonstrators.