SRINAGAR: An ambulance driver in north Kashmir, who was on the way to hospital after ferrying a pellet victim with eye injuries to a Srinagar hospital, was allegedly assaulted by the Army today morning.

Staff members of Hajin Community Health Centre in north Kashmir today held a protest demonstration against the “highhandedness of the army” and demanded action against the guilty soldiers.

Block Medical Officer of Hajin, Dr. Hayat Reshi, said Naseer Ahmad, an ambulance driver, was returning from SMHS hospital today morning when soldiers of the Army's 13 Rashtriya Rifles unit stationed at Hajin signalled him to stop.

“He was dragged inside the camp where he got abused and beaten for no reason. We have taken up the issue with higher authorities. The staff has gone on a strike and they are demanding that a case should be filed against the guilty soldiers,” Dr Hayat said.

The health centre caters to the population of at least six villages in Hajin, a cluster of densely inter-woven villages where security forces have intensified counter-insurgency operations following inputs that the area may have become a safe haven for foreign militants who recently infiltrated into Kashmir.

Earlier today morning, violent clashes broke out in Hajin after a joint team of the police and the Army, in search of militants, laid a cordon around Parrey Mohalla.

Witnesses said angry residents came out on the roads and pelted stones at the government forces, sparking violent clashes during which forces resorted to pellet firing and heavy teargas shelling to disperse the protesters.

Sources said at least four protesters suffered injuries during the clashes which prompted the forces to suspend the operation.

“One of the injured with a pellet injury in left eye was taken to Community Health Centre Hajin from where he was referred to SHMS hospital,” doctors said.

The identity of the victim was not immediately known.

“Upon his return from Srinagar, Naseer (ambulance driver) had picked up some female employees of the health centre when he was stopped by the Army in Hajin," Dr Hayat said.

The Army’s Srinagar based spokesperson could not be reached for his comments. Superintendent of police, Bandipora, Sheikh Zulfkar, said he was out of office for work, “I will check with the office and get back to you,” he said.

(Representative Cover Photograph)