Valley On Boil, Omar Slams BSF Firing

Valley On Boil, Omar Slams BSF Firing

18 July 2013
Times of India


Srinagar: The BSF claimed 'anti-national elements' instigated Thursday's protest in J&K's Ramban district that resulted in the death of four villagers. Regretting the loss of lives, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde ordered an inquiry. 'Any use of excessive force or irresponsible action shall be dealt with strictly,' Shinde said. BSF special director general Dilip Trivedi rushed to Ramban. The incident once again brought the Valley on the brink of turmoil with security forces expecting massive protests in the next few days, especially on Friday, the first of the holy month of Ramzan. Tight security is in place in Ramban and neighbouring districts. The Amarnath Yatra, which goes via Ramban, too has been disrupted. Chief minister Omar Abdullah condemned the firing, saying there was no justification for the deplorable act. 'It's unfortunate that in spite of costly lessons learnt in 2008 and 2010, some among us are determined to repeat past mistakes and use force against unarmed protesters,' he said. Ramban deputy commissioner Shyam Vinod Meena, who was later transferred, blamed the seminary head's statement for the disturbance. 'The situation turned ugly when security forces fired at the protesters who pelted stones at a BSF picket,' he said. J&K minister of state for home Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo said the residents had first protested after a BSF patrol guarding a railway line had detained a youth for suspicious roaming. 'But the people thereafter alleged that the forces ran amok and entered a local mosque and desecrated the Quran,' he said. The killings triggered protests elsewhere in the state, including Srinagar. Reports said protesters blocked the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only surface route connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country, at separate places between Banihal and Udhampur.Authorities suspended internet services and reduced the speed of broadband connections in the Valley to prevent people from organizing protests. According to the BSF, at 5.20 pm on Wednesday, an ambush-cum-patrolling party intercepted Mohammed Latif, 25, and enquired about his identity. Latif allegedly didn't cooperate and started arguing. Meanwhile, 15 to 20 people gathered at the spot and the BSF party retreated to their post. Latif then spread allegations that he had been mistreated by the jawans and that the men in uniform barged into a madarsa and tore up the Quran. This information was also reportedly announced through the local mosque loudspeakers. A protester, Mehjoor Dar, told Reuters the residents came out to condemn the alleged desecration and the protests continued throughout the night. Another protester, Ghulam Nabi, put the number of protesters at 5,000 and said they had gathered outside the BSF camp to protest when they were fired upon. Seminary head Qari Shabir, too, told reporters that the troopers 'tore pages of several copies of the holy book after beating up a school caretaker'. 'They beat him up... That is when the caretaker raised alarm and people started to assemble and the word spread,' Shabir told AFP. Other residents said the troops had entered the mosque to complain about the loud recitation of prayers.