‘9 injured in daylong clashes’
Baramulla: At least 10 persons including a policeman and a soldier were injured Tuesday in clashes in Baramulla district where army, police and paramilitary troopers had been deployed in strength to scuttle protests against elections.
Dozens of youths assembled at Bagh-e-Islam in the old Baramulla town this morning and demonstrated against the elections.
Chanting “no election, no selection, we want freedom”, “Go India, go back”, the protesters, among them children below 10 years, threw stones at the polling booth set up in a government office.
The police tried to subdue them by firing teargas canisters and stones, but the protesters didn’t relent. The clashes continued throughout the day.
Another group of youths engaged CRPF troopers and policemen in parts of the old town. The personnel of the army’s counterinsurgency force, Rashtriya Rifles, were also deployed in huge numbers in the area. The soldiers had blocked dozens of lanes, and a few roads, with concertina wire.
Late afternoon, clashes erupted at Cement Bridge, where armoured vehicles were kept on standby to meet any eventuality.
By evening, the clashes turned intense across the old town. The youth resorted to heavy stone pelting on troopers and policemen when they were returning to their camps. The clashes continued till late evening, injuring four protesters and a soldier.
Clashes were also reported from the neighbouring Sopore town. The police fired tear gas canisters to disperse the stone hurling youth at AshPeer, Arampora, Batpora and Chinkipora when the polling staff and paramilitary troopers were leaving. At Hathi Shah, witnesses said, forces fired warning shots in air after teargas canisters proved ineffective to contain spiralling protests.
“The forces used expired tear smoke shells to chase the protesters. However, the youth continued to pelt the forces with stones from narrow lanes. A youth was injured in the clashes,” Tanveer Ahmad Dar, a witness, told Kashmir Reader, while showing a teargas canister dated October 2007.
Earlier in the day, protesters and the forces were locked in pitched battles in the restive Palhallan town, which looked under siege with coils of concertina wire, barricades and armoured vehicles. The mild clashes continued intermittently till evening and intensified when the forces were leaving.
“The forces burst dozens of tear smoke shells to quell the protests, but to no avail,” Shehzad Ahmad, a local said.
He said that a cop who tried to hide from the protesters was beaten up inside a lane in. The cop identified as Mohammad Irshad, he said, suffered injuries.
“Later, more reinforcements reached the area and lifted the injured cop. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. Two protesters were also injured in clashes,” he added.
In the neighbouring Wusan locality, a woman identified as Rumaya wife of Hilal Ahmad Wani suffered injuries during a clash between the police and anti-poll protesters.
In Tangmarg, reports said, a petrol bomb was hurled by unknown persons at the booth number B/97 in Khaipora. However, no one was injured in the incident.
Chief electoral officer Umang Narula told a news conference that the situation remained peaceful in all the areas where polling was held today.