COPS BEAT PEOPLE INSIDE HAZRATBAL SHRINE
30 Injured; Windowpanes Broken; Shrine Sealed
Srinagar, Aug 14: At least 30 people sustained injuries when police beat up peaceful protesters who were shouting pro-freedom slogans from inside the Hazratbal shrine here on Saturday. Police also resorted to firing and allegedly broke the windowpanes of Kashmir’s biggest shrine, triggering a pandemonium within and outside it.
The trouble erupted at 1.15 pm when police and paramilitary CRPF barred people from offering the congregational afternoon prayers in the shrine. Irked by the halt, the protesters broke the police cordon and offered prayers inside the shrine.
As they went in, they started shouting pro-Islam and pro-freedom slogans. After the prayers—which were offered with loudspeakers off—ended, people switched on the loudspeakers and again shouted pro-freedom slogans. This is for the first time in the past several years that pro-freedom slogans have reverberated from inside the shrine, manned by Muslim Waqf Board.
The sloganeering continued for at least three hours, forcing the cops and CRPF men to flee from the spot, temporarily.
While everything seemed peaceful for a moment, witnesses said fresh trouble erupted inside the shrine when protesters saw an official of police or CID filming the scene.
This, they said, infuriated the youth who forced the official to flee. “Within a second, the armed police manning the shrine barged inside the shrine and started beating the protesters ruthlessly,” said an eyewitness. The “intense police lathi-charge” in and outside the shrine caused injuries to many protesters, some of whom are stated to be critical.
Eyewitnesses alleged the police broke the windowpanes of the shrine. The broken glasses also caused injuries to some of the protesters after they attempt to escape police beating.
In the meantime, witnesses said police fired upon the protesters once they tried to move out of the shrine. Police however said they resorted to aerial firing.
“We were watching the firing incident from a distance. We tried to move inside the shrine to see if our kin are alright, but policemen beat us up ruthlessly,” said a group of women, who said at least 12 women were wounded in the police action. “Some of the protesters, including kids, were roughed up badly and dragged outside the shrine.”
Reports said three women sustained critical injuries when policemen beat them up ruthlessly, while a Deputy Superintendent of police was also wounded in the scuffle.
The injured were rushed to SK Institute of Medical Sciences and Bone and Joint Hospital.
Curfew was immediately re-imposed in the area, forcing people to offer prayers within their vicinities. Reports said police closed the gates of the shrine in a bid to prevent them from offering prayers inside.
The Superintendent of Police (Hazratbal), Maqsood-uz-Zaman, alleged the protesters attacked the Hazratbal police post. “It was only after this attack that the armed companies manning the shrine opened fire in air. I am sure no one has received any bullet injury. Police tried to disperse the mob outside the shrine. Inside, police only requested the protesters to end the protests,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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