Massive protests near accident spot on Srinagar-Baramulla highway
Srinagar, July 16: At least seven people, including a pregnant woman, were killed Wednesday when an army vehicle rammed into a passenger cab on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, triggering massive protests and clashes between youth and police near the accident spot. Police have seized the vehicle, arrested its driver and lodged a case for further investigation.
Sources said police have registered three FIRs vide number 139, 140, 142 into the incident; under section 304 A of RPC (death caused by rash and negligent driving); Section 307 (attempt to murder); Section 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duties) against Major of Army’s 22 Rashtriya Rifles at Parimpora Police Station.
The incident took place near Hokarsar wetland on the highway at around 10:30 am when the passenger cab—Travera (JK 01P-1464) was on its way from Sopore town in north Kashmir to Srinagar, ferrying at least nine passengers.
According to eyewitnesses, the cab was moving on its side and the army pick-up vehicle was coming from the opposite direction. “The driver of the army vehicle seemed to be inexperienced who all of a sudden hit the passenger vehicle with full throttle,” they said.
One person, the witnesses said, died on spot while the other injured were immediately rushed to nearby hospitals in a critical condition.
Station House Officer, Parimpora Police Station, Muhammad Ayoub Rather, said one person died on the spot while others later succumbed to their injuries. “We have lodged an FIR and investigations have been initiated. The army vehicle has been seized and the driver arrested.”
A police spokesman stated seven people died in the mishap by the end of the day. He identified them as Muhammad RafiqAntoo of DuglitengBaramulla; Nazir Ahmad Mir of MamkakSopore; Peerzada Muhammad Syed of Sopore; Muhammad Ramzan Mir of Sopore; GhulamNabi Dar of KrankshivanSopore; Ghulam Hassan Bhat of Dangerpora, Baramulla and Zareefa wife of AshiqHussain of Dever, Pattan.
An official at the SKIMS hospital Bemina confirmed that the lady, Zareefa of DeverPattan, was eight months pregnant. “Before she could be operated upon, she succumbed,” the official said.
“The two injured persons AshiqHussain Malik of Dever, Pattan and Sheikh Zahid of Sopore have been hospitalized for specialized treatment,” the police spokesman said.
Soon after the accident, scores of people rushed to the site to evacuate the injured. “They were in a very bad condition as army vehicle had hit the cab forcefully. I couldn’t bear the shrieks of some of the injured and called others to help them to reach the hospital,” said Javaid Ahmed, a local resident.
While the injured were being shifted to hospitals, a group of people attempted to torch the army vehicle. As anti-Army protests intensified near the site, Police fired some gunshots in the air and dozens of tear-gas canisters to quell the demonstration. The protests triggered massive traffic jams in the area. The traffic was restored after almost seven hours.
A Srinagar-based army spokesman regretted the incident. “Army regrets the unfortunate loss of lives and conveys deepest condolences to the families. The accident is under investigation and all possible assistance will be provided to the Police in their inquiry,” the statement said.
POLICE DETAIN YOUTH
A few youth from Lawaypora and Hokersar area were detained by the police for protesting against the accident, reports said.
CLASHES IN SOPORE
Meanwhile, as the news of death of four persons in the accident, reached their home town, people took to streets and raised slogans against the army.
Witnesses said dozens of people gathered at the main town Sopore and staged protests. The area also observed complete shutdown with shopkeepers downing their shutters.
According to reports, clashes also erupted between police and youth in the area. Police resorted to cane-charge and tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters.