Clashes, Firing Rock Baramulla After Arrest9 November 2010
New Delhi: Violence flared up in the northern township of Baramulla during protests against the arrest of a local youth, and one person received gunshot wounds as the forces sought to quell stone-pelting with tear-gas and firing, while 15 others were injured in the prolonged clashes. Kashmir elsewhere witnessed a resumption of everyday business during a break in hartal granted by Syed Ali Shah Geelani after three days of civil curfew. The proceedings of a hectic day, however, where disrupted in Baramulla at around noon when the police arrested one Parvez Ahmad Kaloo on the Hospital Road, on charges of having been involved in stone-pelting. Within moments, the entire town was ringing out with announcements over mosque loudspeakers to close down shops and pull transport off the roads. Hundreds of men and women took to the streets and marched in a procession chanting freedom slogans and demanding Kaloo’s release. The forces deployed on the streets blocked the marchers and asked them to disperse, but the latter held their ground chanting slogans to demand the youth’s release. In the meantime groups of youth emerged from the Azad Gunj area and began pelting stones at open shops, traffic and the forces. As the police and the paramilitary men retaliated with cane-charges and tear gas, the violence spread to other areas, and soon hundreds of youth were milling in the streets attacking the forces with stones. In the main square, a mob caught hold of a police sub-inspector and gave him a severe beating, and he had to be taken to the military hospital for the injuries received in the attack. With the situation spiralling out of control, the forces supplemented tear gassing with firing, and a street vendor, Bilal Ahmad Bhat of Srinagar, sustained serious bullet injuries. Doctors at the district hospital referred him to the SKIMS in Soura because of his serious condition. Two persons were injured on being hit by tear gas shells, and had to be hospitalised. The situation in the town was tense when reports last came in, and street battles were on near Azad Gunj, Cement Bridge and the SRTC Bridge. The inspector general of police (IGP) for Kashmir, SM Sahai, said that the arrested youth, also known as Meenu Kumari, had been involved in several incidents of stone-pelting in the town and was on the wanted list. The IGP said that some mischievous elements had tried to disrupt law and order at his arrest, but the situation had been brought under control. Meanwhile, a group styling itself as the Sangbaaz Association (stone-pelters association) has threatened not to allow shops to open in the town and traffic to ply until Kaloo was released. The police arrested two more persons, identified as Ashfaq Ahmad Dar and Abdul Rauf Pandit, in Handwara and Langate respectively. The locals held protests and dharnas against the arrests, saying that those picked up by the police were mere students.