Eight More Killed, PM Calls CCS Meet

Eight More Killed, PM Calls CCS Meet

1 August 2010
The Indian Express
Muzamil Jaleel

Srinagar: Thousands of people hit the streets across Kashmir on Sunday, turning the seething anger against the killings of civilians into a movement that the government is finding increasingly difficult to tackle. Four more persons, including a 17-year-old girl, were killed when CRPF and police opened fire at protesters, while four others were killed when an ammunition dump exploded in a police camp. This takes the toll to 14 in the last three days and 31 since June 11, including 12 teenagers and a nine-year-old schoolboy. Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah appeared on local Doordarshan today to appeal to the civil society as well as political leaders to help his government restore peace and normalcy in the Valley, people in Srinagar came out on the streets to protest. Announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers, urging residents to come out on the streets. Abdullah also reiterated his government’s tough stance while addressing a group of ministers later. Giving details of this meeting, an official statement later said that “those who take law into their hands should be dealt with sternly”. Though the CRPF top brass and a section of police officers are advocating an “iron fist” policy to curb the protests that are growing each day, opinion is divided within the police, especially as public pressure over the local cadres of police is building up. “Hundreds of our constables have made civilian identity cards to be safe when they go home, because people check identity cards on roads,” said an officer. In fact, two senior police officers including a Senior Superintendent of Police recently refused to join after they were transferred to volatile Baramulla district. On Sunday, though the government had imposed curfew and strict restrictions in Srinagar city and most of the other towns and big villages across Kashmir, there was no let up in the protests. The focal point of the protests was the south Kashmir town of Pampore, adjoining Khrew area and the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. While the protests in Pampore started in the morning, two teenagers, Nayeem Ahmad Shah (17) of Pampore and Rayees Ahmad Wani (17) of Wuyan, were killed at about 1:30 pm, when the police and CRPF fired at protesters near MEI School. More than 10 people were wounded in the firing, most of them critically. “Around ten thousand people were protesting peacefully on the national highway. The police and CRPF deployed on the highway wanted us to move away from the highway. People were very angry and refused to move. Then they opened fire. The first burst hit a chinar tree. They then fired directly at the people,” said Muzaffar Ahmad, a resident of Pampore. The wounded included a 60-year-old man and a nine-year-old girl. Soon after the firing, residents of Pampore and the adjoining villages took to the streets. Protesters set on fire the tehsil office, a court building, the office of Roads & Building, and two government vehicles parked in the tehsil office. As massive protests continued, police again opened fire. In its statement, the J&K police blamed “some unidentified militant” for opening fire on the security forces. “The unruly mobs set the office-cum-residence of the tehsildar on fire besides torching a police vehicle and damaging a number of them. Miscreants snatched weapons from the local court guard. They also resorted to heavy pelting on the police station and the deployments,” said the statement. In the adjoining Khrew locality, a group of 300-400 youths started marching towards Lethpora, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. They were intercepted by the police who fired tear smoke shells. The protesters, along with people from other villages, returned to Khrew and pelted stones at a police post there. The police fired tear smoke shells, and later resorted to firing, hitting Riyaz Ahmad Bhat (19) and Afroza (17). Both succumbed to their injuries in a Srinagar hospital. A 47-year-old driver, Farooq Ahmad Pathan, received serious bullet injury in abdomen and is critical. Seven more people have been injured by tear smoke shells. When the news of Afroza’s death reached Khrew, angry protesters set on fire the police post and the office building of the Assistant Executive Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control. The ammunition dump in the police post, which is a special operations group camp, exploded, killing four persons and wounding 35 people. The dead were identified as Mohammad Anwar (18), Javed Ahmed Sheikh ( 22) and Mohammad Amin Lone (21) while the identity of the fourth victim was not available. The police top brass then sought the intervention of the army’s Rashtriya Rifles battalion stationed in the vicinity. There were similar protests by residents in Kakpora (Pulwama district), Anantnag district, Naidkhai in Bandipore district as well as Nowgam and Channapora in uptown Srinagar. SMHS Medical Superintendent Dr Wasim Qureshi said while one person was brought dead, they received four injured persons on Sunday. “The boy who was brought dead was Nayeem Ahmad Shah of Pampore,” he said. At SKIMS Hospital, Medical Superintendent Dr Amin Tabish said they received three injured people today. “We admitted 16-year-old Akhter, 20-year-old Mohammad Shaban and 17-year-old Afroza this morning,” he said. “Afroza succumbed to her injury while Shaban and Akhter are critical,” he added. At the Bones and Joints Hospital, a senior official said: “We have received 13 people with bullet injuries while there are 65 who were injured because of cane charging and rifle butt beatings.” Centre says law and order problem, wants active policing New Delhi Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a special meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Sunday night after a spurt in violence in Kashmir. The meeting was held to take stock of the security situation in the Valley, which has been on the boil for the past few days. Sources said several long-term proposals by the state government to bring peace were discussed at the meeting. One included rehabilitation packages for former militants to bring them into the mainstream. However, it is learnt that the Centre is keen on first improving the law and order situation in the Valley before finalising long-term plans. The violence in the Valley is being viewed as a law and order issue and the Centre wants to see more proactive policing to maintain the peace. In the past, the government has been reluctant to call in the armed forces to restore peace. This view was again echoed at the CCS meet. The meeting was chaired by the PM and was attended by Home Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and senior functionaries from the defence and home ministries. This is the second CCS meet on the Kashmir situation in less than a month after a similar spurt of violence prompted the PM to take stock of the situation last month. ENS


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