Kashmir Under 'Clamp-Down', Protests in Handwara
SRINAGAR: Amid anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, severe clashes broke out in Handwara township of Kashmir Valley Wednesday against the killing of three civilians, who were protesting an alleged molestation bid by Army.
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday met the Union Defence minister Manohar Parrikar in the national capital who assured a "time bound probe" into the matter and monetary compensation for the families of the victims.
"The defence minister assured the chief minister of a detailed time-bound probe to fix the responsibility in the firing incident at Handwara," an official spokesperson said.
A complete shutdown is being observed across Kashmir with thin vehicular traffic on roads in the summer capital Srinagar and most government and private offices shut following the strike call of the Hurriyat.
Amid fears of protests, authorities have imposed curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar and other "sensitive" places of Kashmir Valley where locals are prevented from coming out of their homes.
The toll from the Army's firing on Tuesday reached three with a woman, Raja Begum, who had sustained bullet injuries in her face, succumbing late on Tuesday night.
Amid anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, thousands of people participated in her funeral at Langate on Wednesday after her body was sent home from a Srinagar hospital.
“As the funeral procession returned from the graveyard, forces resorted to teargas shelling and lathi-charge, resulting in minor injuries to the mourners,” an eyewitnesses told The Citizen.
The other two deceased, Nayeem Qadir Bhat, a budding cricketer, and Mohammad Iqbal, a shopkeeper, were also laid to rest amid emotional scenes.
According to reports, the J&K Police conducted nocturnal raids in several areas of Handwara and detained at least a dozen suspects in connection with the riots that broke out in the town on Tuesday afternoon following the alleged molestation bid.
According to locals, an Army man followed a girl student into a washroom in main square of Handwara town where he allegedly tried to molest her, sparking severe clashes during which the agitators tried to set an Army bunker on fire.
According to the J&K police, the Army opened fire on the protesters, resulting in bullet injuries to at least five persons, "We have registered a case and investigations are underway to ascertain facts of the case," a senior police officer said.
In an unprecedented move, the Army Wednesday released the video of the girl, who is seen blaming locals for fanning the unrest while denying that any soldier had tried to molest her.
"The army has verified the authenticity of the video and identity of the girl. The girl says that she went to the nearby washroom along with her friend and suddenly a youth appeared before her and took her bag away," the army's Srinagar-based spokesman said.
"As per her statement in the video, the boy resisted her to come to nearby police station.In the meanwhile, the other youth shouted slogans and instigated violence," the statement added.
(Curfew in Srinagar: Photograph by Basit Zargar)