The alleged rape of a three-year-old girl in north Kashmir’s Bandipora triggered massive protests and clashes across Kashmir on Monday with the protestors demanding stern punishment to the perpetrator.
A shutdown was observed across the Valley on the call of IttehadulMuslimeen against the alleged rape of the minor who is battling for her life in a hospital since Sunday.
The day started with the protests with women, students, traders, civil society activists, and the clerics hitting streets across Kashmir to register their anger against the brutal act.
The protestors in unison demanded exemplary punishment to the guilty so that such incidents don’t recur.
A witness said, a group of youth staged protest in the morning at Chenbal, Pattan on Srinagar-Baramulla highway. The protestors marched towards the highway where the security forces were deployed.
“The youth first raised slogans and then pelted the security forces with stones and bricks triggering intense clashes,” he said.
“The police fired tear gas shells to disperse protestors. A tear canister hit the head of a protestor injuring him seriously. He fell down and was immediately whisked away by youth to a hospital,” he said.
The injured was identified as Arshid Ahmed Dar, a resident of Chenbal, Pattan. “He was first taken to nearby medical facility from where he was referred to SMHS hospital Srinagar in a critical condition,” a witness said.
At least ten other youths also sustained injuries in the security forces’ action at Chenbal, another witness said. “However, all of them were stable and given the treatment at the sub-district hospital Pattan,” he said.
As the news about Arshid getting critical injury spread, the number of protestors swelled and they engaged security forces personnel in intense clashes.
Pitched battles, between youth and the forces were going on in Chenbal, Pattan and other adjoining areas till evening prayers, a witness said.
The police, however, said that only seven youth sustained injuries and all were stable. It said 47 policemen sustained injuries in clashes at Pattan while as SahastraSeemaBal Assistant Commandant of 2nd battalion received a stone wound on his head.
Police said intense clashes were witnessed at Mirgund, Chenbal, Harthrath, Singhpora, Heel Bridge, KripalporaPayeen and Hanjiweera areas of Baramulla district.
Another witness said that dozens of women also hit the streets in Pattan raising pro-Islam slogans. “They placed rocks on the road to block the traffic movement. They were demanding that the guilty be hanged in public,” the witness said.
Sources said dozens of vehicles including two ambulances bearing registration numbers JK05-7477 and JK02BS-0717, which were carrying patients, suffered damage after protestors pelted them with stones.
COMMUTERS STUCK ON HIGHWAY
Following the clashes and protests at multiple places along Srinagar-Baramulla national highway, hundreds of passengers including women and children remained struck on the highway for more than seven hours, witnesses said.
“I and my friend are stuck at Mirgund for more than six hours. The protestors are not allowing us to move,” said Fayaz Ahmad, who was travelling from Baramulla to Srinagar.
Witnesses said scores of women and children stranded on the highway were crying as they could not move towards their places for several hours.
The intensity of protests was high in northern districts of Baramulla and Bandipora, witnesses said.
PROTESTS IN SRINAGAR, BUDGAM
A series of protests were held in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, where youth, elderly and women demanded exemplary punishment to the person involved in the act.
Protests were held in several places in Srinagar.
In Srinagar’s Press Enclave, dozens of protests were held by various organisations including the civil society groups demanding exemplary punishment for the guilty.
At Shalimar, a witness said that youth burnt tyres on the roads to stop the vehicle movement.
Peaceful protests were held in Alamgari Bazar, Hawal and Zadibal areas of downtown.
Jammu and Kashmir Youth Alliance (JKYA) presented a detailed memorandum to Governor seeking stern punishment to the guilty.
A peaceful protest was staged by IttehadulMuslimeen led by MoulanaMasroor Abbas Ansari at Press Enclave here, who demanded stern punishment to the guilty without delay.
Traders’ Union Magam also staged a protest at Press Enclave, here.
A protest was also held at Sempora on Srinagar-Jammu (old national highway) where traffic remained blocked for hours together as the protestors were demanding the person involved in the crime be hanged in public.
PROTESTS IN PULWAMA
Amid a complete shutdown, protests were held in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Scores of students of Degree College for Women took out a peaceful protest rally and demanded exemplary punishment to the culprit.
The rally was taken out from the college premises and it culminated near New Colony, Pulwama.
Bar Assoction, Pulwama also suspended its work for the day in protest against the incident.
The Bar in a statement described the incident a “stain on the face of society” and demanded stern punishment to the culprit and those “fabricating the evidence”.
Earlier in the day, some young men assembled in the main town and threw rocks on the police station. The police men in turn responded by firing tear smoke shells.
PROTEST IN POONCH MANDI
People in PoonchMandi Monday staged a protest demonstration demanding stern action against the culprit in the rape of a three years old minor girl in Bandipora.
A protest rally was taken out from Jamia Masjid Al Mustafa (SAW) Mandi.
PROTESTS IN KARGIL
Sources said that massive protest rallies were held in Kargil district of Ladakh region where protestors termed the rape of the three-year-old girl “a blot on humanity” and demanded capital punishment for the culprit.
A witness said a protest rally was taken out from Jamia Masjid Kargil under the banner ‘Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust Kargil’, which was joined by the hundreds of students from Mutharry Public School and hundreds of women from Zainabia Welfare Committee Kargil.
The rally later concluded at Kalon Rahim Khan ChowkKargil (LalChowk).
Former MLA Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai also participated in the protest rally and demanded stern action against the culprit.
Talking to Greater Kashmir over phone Karbalai said they demanded justice for the victim and exemplary punishment for the culprit.
A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir, the call for which was given by IttehadulMuslimeen.
All the commercial establishments and private institutions remained closed for the day.
In LalChowk, the commercial hub of Kashmir, all the shops and private institutions remained shut for the day.
A witness said the private transport was plying normally. The inter-district sumo-service was also not affected.
Sources from southern Kashmir stated that complete shutdown was observed in all the four districts—Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag while as mild stone pelting incidents were witnessed in Pulwama and Tral areas.
In Baramulla and Sopore area, peaceful rallies were held with protestors urging the government to conclude the investigation into the incident on fast track basis to ensure the guilty was punished.
Shutdown was also witnessed in Kupwara district where youth staged demos demanding action against the culprit.
Shutdown was also observed in Kargil.
MIRWAIZ UMAR CALLS FOR PEACE
Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who also heads the MuttahidaMajlis-e-Ulema (MMU), an amalgam of religious bodies in Kashmir, made a fervent appeal to the people of Kashmir to maintain unity in this hour.
Mirwaiz wrote on his twitter: “Fervent Appeal to all people of Kashmir to maintain unity and vigil especially in view of mischievous forces waiting to create a sectarian divide out of this most reprehensible crime against a child which is indeed a crime against all humanity. All of Kashmir stands in unison… demanding sternest punishment against the brute perpetrator.”
With inputs from Altaf Baba and Irfan Raina)