Universities, colleges, higher secondary schools to remain closed today,KU,IUSTpostpone exams,SHRC takes cognizance of Pulwama incident.
Over 70 students were injured by government forces on Monday as college and university campuses across Kashmir erupted against the thrashing of Pulwama Degree College students on Saturday, forcing the state administration to order closure of academic institutions on Tuesday “as a precautionary measure,” even as the University of Kashmir and the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) postponed the exams slated for Tuesday.
Early this morning, students of SP College and SP Higher Secondary School here assembled inside the campuses and staged massive pro-freedom protests. They tried to march towards nearby M A Road, but the forces personnel, deployed in large numbers, swung into action and fired dozens of teargas shells to push the students back. However, the students offered stiff resistance and pelted stones on the forces, triggering clashes that continued till late afternoon. The situation deteriorated further when students from Government College for Women took out protest march on M A Road against the Pulwama incident in which at least 50 students sustained injuries in action by police and paramilitary forces. The girl students blocked the road outside the college and raised anti-government and pro-Azadi slogans as women police tried to stop them from hitting the streets.
During the clashes, reports said, three students of SP Higher Secondary school were injured in police action while several girl students complained of suffocation after cops resorted to intense tear-gas and pepper-gas shelling to disperse the protesters. Reports of protests came in from Kashmir University as well, though the demonstration there remained confined to the campus only.
Students from Gandhi Memorial College and MP Higher Secondary School (HSS) at Bagh-e-Dilawar Khan here also staged protests. However, police resorted to tear-gas shelling to disperse them. “Students attended classes in the morning, but later staged protests. Some of our students have also sustained injuries,” Principal of MP Higher Secondary School said.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (East Srinagar), Syed Haneef Balkhi, who was present outside SP College, said they had ordered J&K police to use non-lethal weapons against the protesting students. “We are using teargas shells and water cannons to disperse the students,” he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail Parray denied use of pellets on students outside SP College. “We didn’t use pellet guns and one student was injured due to a stone. Some outsiders had entered the college premises which flared up the situation,” he claimed.
The situation was equally grim at Amar Singh College and Bemina Degree College, though the students dispersed off peacefully. “We did not allow students to march out of the premises neither was Police allowed to enter the campus,” Principal, Amar Singh College, said.
The entrance gate of Bemina Degree College, according to its Principal, was closed from both sides. “No student was hurt in protests. We didn’t allow Police to enter inside,” he said.
Those injured in Srinagar included Iqra from Sekidafar area. She was hit by a stone thrown allegedly by forces at the protesting students, and Umer Majid who was hit by a pellet in his eye. Students also staged protests in Ganderbal district as well.
At least 32 students, including girls, sustained injuries in Kulgam district during clashes between students and forces as latter entered the college premises, witnesses said.
15 students sustained injuries in the forces action in Shopian town outside the college premises, they said.
The injured included Basit Khursheed who sustained pellet injuries in his eyes. “We were holding a peaceful protest inside the college premises but government forces barged inside and without any provocation resorted to baton-charge and tear-gas shelling,” the students said.
“The police and CRPF men used ‘lathis’ on the students, both boys and girls during which many students suffered injuries. They even caught hold of some girl students and roughed them up,” they alleged.
They said many girl students fainted after forces directly fired teargas shells at the students. “We received at least 32 injured students, including 14 girls, with injuries in legs and arms,” Medical Superintendent (MS) of District Hospital Kulgam Dr Roshan Din told Greater Kashmir. He said all the students were discharged later.
As the word about the forces’ action spread, protests in Kulgam college intensified. “Forces lobbed teargas shells but the students retaliated by pelting stones and the campus turned into a battlefield,” witnesses said. They said the college property was also damaged during the clashes.
The Kulgam College Principal, Professor Bashir Ahmad admitted that the forces entered the college premises and beat up the students. “The protest was going on peacefully,” he said.
Reports of protests came in from Boys Degree College and Women’s College Anantnag. “The students after holding protests inside the premises hit the streets and marched through the town amid pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering,” witnesses said.
“Protests were also held at Government Degree Colleges Bijbehara, Dooru and Kokernag. The students of South Campus of University of Kashmir also staged protests. Demonstrations were held in Pulwama district amid shutdown wherein students marched in the town. Protests were also staged in Haal and Rohmu areas of Pulwama district,” witnesses added.
Protests also rocked Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora. Scores of students assembled inside the campus and staged a demonstration to denounce the use of force on the students, witnesses said.
“Scores of students assembled inside Government Degree College Tral and staged protests amid anti-government and pro-freedom slogans. Later, the students of Government Boys HSS Tral also took out a protest march in the town. The students marched from Bajwani campus to Khankah-e-Faiz Panah to express solidarity with the students of GDC Pulwama. The students were carrying placards reading: Save Kashmir; Stop Brutality,” witnesses added.
“Both the protests were peaceful and no untoward incident happened anywhere in the town,” a senior police official told Greater Kashmir.
In Sopore town, a protest march was taken out by students this morning. The students were joined by fellow-students of other institutions which included Govt Higher Secondary School Sopore. As the students reached near Town Hall, they started hurling stones at a nearby bunker. Police swung into action and lobbed scores of teargas shells to disperse the protesters. However, students continued with their protest and marched through various markets of the town, witnesses said.
Later clashes were witnessed also near Iqbal market and adjoining areas. These clashes continued for several hours, resulting in the closure of market for several hours. Two girl students and a scribe suffered minor injury during these clashes, the witnesses added.
Massive clashes between students and police were also witnessed near Boys degree college Baramulla. Earlier the college students took out a protest march. The students after reaching near Jetty Road started pelting students towards the forces personnel who retaliated with teargas shells, forcing students to return to the college. As the students staged protest inside the college, police entered inside and lobbed teargas shells, witnesses said. Several teargas shells landed inside classrooms, they said.
Later clashes between students and forces erupted in the college ground which continued for several hours. Six students were reportedly arrested by police, reports said.
Students from women’s college Baramulla also staged a protest march in the campus. The students were not allowed to go out of the college. However, as soon as the college timing ended, the girl students took out a massive protest march and moved through the main chowk. The students were raising pro-freedom slogans and demanding action against cops involved in use of force against the students of Degree College Pulwama. After passing through the main market, the students tried to march towards the highway, but police present in the area lobbed some teargas shells and dispersed the protesters.
Students of Degree College Pattan in Baramulla district also staged massive protest inside the college premises. The students continued with their protest for several hours. Massive protest was also staged by the students of Degree College Tangmarg. The students were later joined by the students of Government Higher Secondary School Chandilora. The protesting students continued their protest for several hours on Srinagar-Gulmarg highway.
Reports of students staging protests were also received from Handwara and Kupwara areas of north Kashmir. In Kupwara town, a huge protest was staged by the students of Degree College. These students were joined by students of other schools as well. Reports of minor clashes between students and the police came in from the town. Students of Handwara College also staged a protest.
SSP Baramulla, Imtiyaz Hussain said: “We have arrested four students who were hurling stones on vehicles during the protests. We have registered case against them.”
He said seven cops were injured in clashes but no student sustained injures.
Students of Sumbal Degree College and higher secondary school Sumbal in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district also took out a protest rally. The situation turned violent after students hurled stones on forces personnel who retaliated with baton charge and teargas shelling, triggering clashes which continued till afternoon. Post-clashes, witnesses said, shopkeepers in the main market Sumbal downed their shutters and observed a shutdown. However, there were no reports of any injuries.
Meanwhile, scores of students of Government Degree College Bandipora staged protests against the Pulwama incident. Students including girls assembled in the lawns of GDC Bandipora and raised slogans against the government and forces.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Bandipora, Zulfikar Azad, said mild clashes broke out in Sumbal after students pelted stones on a local police station. “A protest was held by the students at degree college Bandipora in Putushai. However, the situation in the district remained by and large peaceful,” he added.
ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS TO REMAIN CLOSED TODAY
In view of the deteriorating situation, the J&K government ordered closure of all the universities, colleges and HSS in Kashmir on Tuesday.“All the universities, Higher Secondary Schools and colleges shall remain closed on April 18 as a precautionary measure,” the Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan said.
KU, IUST POSTPONE XAMS
"All Kashmir University examinations scheduled to be held on April 18, 2017 (Tuesday) are postponed. Fresh dates for the deferred examinations shall be notified separately, later," a KU spokesman said.
"All IUST exams scheduled to be held on April 18 (Tuesday) are postponed. Fresh dates for these exams will be notified later," the Vice Chancellor IUST, Prof. Mushtaq Siddique said.
A police spokesman said students of different colleges protested at some places in Kashmir on Monday. He said students at most of the places protested inside their college premises. “At few places in Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam the students assembled on the roads and indulged in stone pelting thus disrupting the movement of general people and traffic on busy roads. The police at these places exhibited maximum restraint and dispersed the stone pelting mobs of students by using some teargas shells,” the spokesman added.
He said College property was also damaged at some places. “In the resultant chaos some students received minor injuries and most of them were discharged after first aid,” he said.
The spokesman said, “The Station House Officer (SHO) Kothi Bagh and four policemen were injured at MA Road Srinagar while tackling the stone pelting incidents. A lady constable fractured her arm,” he said.
SHRC TAKES NOTE
Meanwhile, State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has taken cognizance of the alleged disproportionate use of force against students at Degree College Pulwama last week.
In a statement issued today, the SHRC spokesperson said that the Chairperson Justice Bilal Nazki took cognizance of the matter and directed Superintendent of Police Pulwama to file a detailed report regarding the matter before the Commission within two weeks.
(With inputs from Altaf Baba, Khalid Gul, Ejaz-ul-haq Bhat, Showkat Dar, Ghulam Muhammad)