At least 14 students and a video-journalist were injured when government forces fired teargas shells and pellets on students protesting inside college premises in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Thursday, even as locals clashed with forces in neighbouring Anantnag township after policemen allegedly roughed up a shopkeeper.
Witnesses said the students of Government Degree College Kulgam assembled in the college campus this afternoon and staged a pro-freedom protest. The forces guarding the nearby official residence of Superintendent of Police, Member Parliament and Court Complex fired teargas shells and pellets on the students who retaliated with stones, triggering clashes, they said.
“We had an argument with police after they started filming the protest following which they resorted to indiscriminate pellet firing and teargas shelling,” the protesting students told Kashmir Post. However, police maintained that they fired teargas shells after they were attacked with stones.
“The forces personnel scaled the college wall and unleashed terror within the campus,” the students alleged.
“We received 14 students with injuries, including girls most of whom were hit by pellets,” said a doctor at District Hospital Kulgam.
He said one of students had severe pellet injury in his eye and the injured video journalist Tanveer Ahmad Wani who had sustained pellet injury near his eye were rushed to Srinagar for specialized treatment. “Many girls complained of suffocation due to inhalation of smoke while some even fainted,” the doctor said.
The College Principal, Professor Bashir Ahmad said: “There was a confrontation between students and government forces in which few students got injured.”
He denied that forces personnel entered the college premises.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said in a statement: “Some miscreants pelted stones in Kulgam market and forced the shopkeepers to down their shutters. The police reached the spot and chased the miscreants. There were no serious injuries to anybody. After some time the shops were opened. General public is requested not to be part of any unruly crowd and help in dealing with the miscreants.”
Meanwhile, clashes erupted in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town on Thursday when government forces allegedly roughed up a shopkeeper.
“Policemen beat up the shopkeeper in Dangerpora locality as he objected to the towing of his car on the allegation that it is a stolen car and without number,” the traders, witness to the incident, told Kashmir Post.
They said the shopkeeper had recently purchased the new car. “To substantiate his claim, he produced all the documents. The policemen did not listen to him and instead started lifting the vehicle. The shopkeeper entered into an argument with the cops, following which he was roughed up,” the traders said.
They said as they tried to stage a protest against their high-handedness, they (policemen) lobbed tear shells to disperse them.
Later, the traders in Dangerpora downed their shutters and took out a protest march towards Lal Chowk. However, the situation turned ugly when youth and students joined the protest and clashed with government forces. “Youth pelted stones on the forces who retaliated by resorting to intense teargas shelling, pellet firing and also used pepper gas and Pava shells,” witnesses said.
They said clashes soon spread to Achabal Adda, Janglat Mandi, Mattan Adda and other old town areas. One person sustained pellet injuries in head and was treated at District Hospital Anantnag. Witnesses said one of the elderly persons fell unconscious due to excessive use of pepper and Pava shells. He had to be hospitalized.
The clashes triggered chaos in the area and led to a spontaneous shutdown.
A senior police official alleged that the shopkeeper had wrongly parked his car. “The cops were clearing the jam and the said shopkeeper had wrongly parked his vehicle,” he claimed.