14 Injured In Clashes At Army Recruitment Rally

5 August 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir & Amin Masoodi

Srinagar: At least 14 youths seeking jobs in the Territorial Army (TA) were injured, two of them critically, in clashes which broke out during a recruitment rally in Kupwara district on Tuesday. The clashes broke out early this morning at Chamkote Tanghdar, 180 kilometres from Srinagar and close to the Line of Control. A large number of aspirants started throwing stones on the compound where the recruitment drive was in progress. 'Fourteen persons were injured in the clashes. Two of them received bullet injuries,' Kupwara Deputy Commissioner Itrat Hussain said. 'Senior police, Army and civil officials are camping at Chamkote and monitoring the situation,' he said. Sources said over 3,500 youths from the area assembled for the recruitment rally for seven vacancies in the Territorial Army. A group started protesting against the Army, alleging that class VIII passouts were not eligible for recruitment, the sources said. This angered those who were not considered for recruitment and they started throwing stones. The protesters shouted slogans and set ablaze the main gate of the Army camp. They tried to set on fire the wooden fencing of the compound. Policemen deployed at the venue resorted to a cane-charge and burst smoke shells to disperse them, but they regrouped and clashed with the police. As the clashes intensified, the police allegedly fired on protesters, injuring Irshad Ahmad Sheikh from Kandi and Sajad Ahmad from Baghbela. The two were taken to a Srinagar hospital. Additional personnel were rushed to area to bring the situation under control. The aspirants were angry with the Army's recruitment drive. 'We were told that middle pass was the eligibility criterion. We were shocked to know at the venue that matric pass was the basic criterion,' said Naseer Ahmad Cheechi, a middle pass aspirant. A police officer in north Kashmir said they were investigating how the two youths received bullet injuries. A defence official in Srinagar said they fired a few blank rounds. 'Blank rounds do not cause injury,' he said. Soon after the incident, hundreds of local residents protested against the Army and the police, demanding a probe into the incident and stern action against the erring policemen.