Shops Open, Protests Continue
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley is limping back to normalcy after a week of protests against the killing of five civilians, although parts of north Kashmir's restive Kupwara district are still reeling under restrictions.
Shops, educational institutes, government offices and business establishments opened in the summer capital Srinagar on Monday morning after nearly a week of shutdown against the alleged molestation of a girl student by an Army soldier in Kupwara. Mobile internet was also restored overnight.
Amid pro-freedom slogans, nearly 200 students marched on campus at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in solidarity with the people of Kupwara district where violent protests erupted last week against the alleged molestation, resulting in the killing of five civilians, including an elderly woman.
Carrying placards, the protesters were demanding stern punishment for the armed personnel which went on a rampage last week, killing five civilians. Similar protests were held at the University of Kashmir even as fresh clashes broke out Kupwara and Handwara where curfew-like restrictions were reimposed on Monday.
A senior police official said restrictions were lifted in Handwara, Kupwara and Trehgam areas on Monday morning but clashes erupted in these areas with angry youth pelting stones at forces who responded with teargas shelling. "Following the clashes, restrictions were reimposed. They will continue to remain in force till evening," the police officer said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a prominent rights group at the forefront of justice for rights victims in Kashmir, Monday claimed that the girl, who is at the centre of simmering discontent in the Valley, was pressured by police to make the statement.
"The minor girl has on two occasions – in the video recorded and circulated and in the Section 164-A CrPC statement before the judicial magistrate – been pressurized to testify in a manner as directed by the police. Neither of these statements were made voluntarily," a JKCCS spokesperson said.
The JKCCS spokesperson said the family of the girl has been kept under constant police surveillance and control, although they have not sought any police protection.
"Presently, every effort is being made by the police to harass and intimidate the family. There is an urgent need for the family to be re-located to a safe place, allowed unhindered access to their legal team and be provided any other support they require," the spokesperson said.
(Photograph Basit Zargar)