Tensions Over Rape Spiral: Students Protest All Over Kashmir, Several Injured
Earlier protest in Srinagar (Photograph Basit Zargar)
SRINAGAR: As tensions continue to rise, two police officers and several students were injured in clashes as violent protests broke out in various parts of Kashmir valley today against the communal gang-rape and murder of the eight-year-old Asifa in which eight persons from the Hindu community have been arrested so far.
Reports and witnesses said dozens of students clashed with police and paramilitary forces in Anantnag, Pulwama, Baramulla, Kulgam and Kupwara districts of the Valley. Several educational institutions, prominently in Srinagar city, are closed on the orders of state government in view of the prevailing tensions.
Witnesses said a group of male and female students carrying banners and placards demanding justice for the eight-year-old, who became victim of a communal conspiracy to drive out Muslims from Rasana village of Kathua, converged on the busy Khanabal-Pahalgam road in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town.
As the agitated students tried to march on the busy road, police and paramilitary forces deployed in strength, stopped them, sparking an argument which soon boiled down into clashes. Reports said students pelted stones at the forces, who responded by firing teargas shells and pellets, leaving several students injured.
“At least five students were brought to Anantnag district hospital of whom one was referred to Srinagar for specialised treatment. Two others, who had suffered minor bruises, were given first aid and discharged,” a doctor at Anantnag district hospital, said.
In south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, a SDPO-ranked officer and a station house officer were injured when clashes broke out between students and police outside the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora area of Pulwama district today afternoon against the Kathua tragedy.
Police said a group of students assembled on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway in Awantipora, blocking traffic, and staged protests to demand strict punishment for the culprits in Kathua incident. “When a police team reached the area and tried to restore traffic by pushing the students into the campus, they resorted to stone-pelting,” sources said.
Students alleged that the policemen barged into the campus where they resorted to vandalism and also broke windowpanes of several cars parked there. A photo of a Maruti car apparently parked in the campus, whose rear windshield lay smashed, went viral on social media.
Sources said protests and clashes against the Kathua incident also broke out in degree colleges of Pulwama, Baramulla, Kulgam and Kupwara districts today afternoon, prompting the district administrations to shut them down for the day. However, there are no reports of any injuries.
The brutal gang-rape and murder of the eight-year-old from Kathua has polarised the Jammu region along communal lines with the BJP, which is in power in the state with the PDP, adding fuel to the fire by lending overt and covert support to the eight culprits arrested in the case.
Meanwuile, President Ram Nath Kovind, who arrived in Jammu today, termed the incident as “shameful”. “After 70 years of independence, such an incident occurring in any part of the country is shameful. We have to think what kind of society we are developing. It is our responsibility to ensure such a thing does not happen to any girl or woman,” he said during his visit to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Trust University in Jammu today.