Day 4: Curfew, Clashes Continue In Bandipora

Day 4: Curfew, Clashes Continue In Bandipora

18 March 2014
Greater Kashmir
Imran Muzaffar

Srinagar: Curfew was clamped across north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on the fourth consecutive day Tuesday even as violent clashes erupted at few places. Imposition of curfew was announced early this morning. In main town Bandipora, government forces resorted to aerial firing to disperse a large group of angry demonstrators while dozens were injured in pellet firing in Hajin town. The area has been protesting killing of 20-year-old Farhat Ahmad Dar who was shot dead on March 14 in police firing in Naidkhai neighborhood. In major towns of Sumbal and Naidkhai, life remained crippled due to strict curfew. However, minor clashes were reported in the afternoon from Naidkhai. Across the district, large contingents of police and paramilitary forces were deployed to thwart pro-freedom protests. An incident of stone pelting was also reported from Sadarkote area of Sonawari. According to locals in Hajin, during the clashes, forces went on a rampage, ransacked houses and assaulted women. Shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads in the curfewed areas. Meanwhile, a police spokesman said a three-hour relaxation in curfew was announced in Bandipora. “There was a three-hour relaxation in curfew from 9:45 am to 12:45 pm today,” a police spokesman told PTI news agency. He said the relaxation has been announced to facilitate people to purchase essential commodities. Clashes in Hajin Around a dozen persons were injured when government forces fired pellet guns and tear gas shells to disperse thousands of angry demonstrators in north Kashmir’s Hajin town Tuesday, healthcare officials and witnesses said. Two of the injured, Aijaz Ahmad Hurra and Ishfaq Ahmad Parray, were hit seriously in the eye, according to locals, and have been shifted to a hospital in Srinagar. Others who sustained injuries include Abdul Samad, Muhammad Shaban, Ishtiyaq Ahmad, Naseer Ahmad, Umar Ahmad, Abdul Hameed and Manzoor Ahmad. Block Medical Officer (BMO) Hajin, Dr Tariq Ahmad, confirmed injuries to four persons. “Four persons had received pellet injuries, one of them is critical. He was shifted to JVC Hospital, Srinagar,” he said. Intense clashes in the town continued for the fourth consecutive day Tuesday with thousands of people out on the streets protesting the killing of Farhat. Reports said large contingents of police and paramilitary forces were deployed in the town who engaged with youth in ding-dong battles in main market. According to witnesses and reports, police and CRPF personnel fired tear gas shells and pellets in dwelling areas. “Some of the shells fell inside houses. They were deliberately shooting the shells into the houses,” Assadullah said. Locals said forces barged into houses and dragged women out and reportedly assaulted them. “Police and CRPF entered into our houses and dragged women out. They tore my two daughters’ clothes,” said a local, Bashir Ahmad Shah. “I am ready to die for what they did.” According to locals forces also broke the window panes of Masjid Alkhuddam and Khanqah. “When we were heading to offer Zuhar (afternoon) prayers, forces fired tear gas at us. After that they barged into the houses and assaulted us,” said another local, Assadullah Parray. He added, “Some of us were locked inside the Masjid and the forces threatened to burn them. That’s when women became emotional and tried to look for men. What forces did to them was beastly. “They pulled their hair and tore off their clothes,” alleged the locals. Following the news of assault on women, locals said, protests spread across the town. “The violent protests erupted after people heard that women have been assaulted by forces,” Assadullah said. According to locals, forces damaged property worth crores in the town. “Whatever came their way, they damaged that,” Assadullah added. “We vacated our home from the backyard when the forces barged into the lawn and resorted to damage,” said a student, Wajid. “Intense clashes are going on in the town,” Station House Officer, Hajin, Mushtaq Ahmad, said. “Yesterday we arrested three persons. If we don’t arrest them, then shall we garland them.” The SHO refused to speak on pellet injuries. “Stones are being thrown at us right now. I can’t share any information right now. Just go to hell.” Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Shah Faisal said the administration would look into the allegations of misbehaving with women by forces in the town. “The concerned SP has denied the allegations but I would further look into the issue.” The Superintendent of Police, Bandipora, Muhammad Shafi Mir, refused to speak.