Pulwama Impact: Campus unrest, scores injured

   

SRINAGAR: Academic premises across Kashmir remained restive for most of Monday as students in universities, colleges and in certain cases high secondary schools protested against the alleged police raids on Pulwama College, last Saturday. At most of the places, police used tear smoke shells and at a few places, pellets as well.

(A view of the pitched battles between police and students taken from inside the SP College in Srinagar. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Injuries from Shopian

A report from Shopian said that college students and the police fought pitched battles somewhere near Gagren. Police used tear smoke shells, PAVA and even pellets, reports added. Right now, 15 people are reported injured and one of them, having pellet injury, has been shifted to SMHS in Srinagar.

“We have received only three injured,” Medical Superintendent SMHS hospital said. “Of them one is from Bagh-e-Dilawar Khan and two are from SP College. We have not received any injured from Shopian so far.”

SP College Srinagar

The situation deteriorated soon after students from SP College insisted they will move out of the premises to protest. Police reacted by using force and chased them into the college. For almost half of the day, the police and students were engaged in a battle within the SP College. They were soon joined by the students of Women’s College M A Road which is adjacent to it. The girl students blocked road and were shouting slogans.

(Protesting stones from MA Road, Women College. KL Image: Mehraj Bhat)

“We are trying to manage the situation with least possible force; we do not want any loss,” City Police Chief Imtiaz Ismail, who was personably part of the crisis management,” said. “We got parents of some of the students to convince them but they are not listening.”

After almost half of the day, the situation ebbed as the police provided students exit route from the rare of the college. They drove away some of the injured from that side only. This only helped normal life outside the colleges to resume.

Protests? Everywhere

Reports of student protests were reported from Amar Singh College, Central University, state run colleges in Pattan, Khanbal, Baramulla, Gandhi College Srinagar, Bemina, Womens’ College Srinagar, Dooru, Kangan, Ganderbal, Handwara, Kupwara, Kulgam besides Kashmir University and NIELT Rangreth. IUST Awantipore also protested later in the afternoon.

Reports from Kulgam suggest various students were injured in the police action when the students of the local college moved out of their premises.

(Tear gas in academic premesi. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Violence was also reported from Kupwara and Handwara, where scores of students were injured. While chasing the protesting students in Kupwara, an Assistant Sub Inspector of police suffered a heart attack and died instantly. Identified as Mushtaq Ahmad mir, he was posted with Special Operations Group (SOG) Kupwara, police in Kupwara said. He was a resident of Rajpora in Handwara. Another cop was injured when a stone hit his head.

Students of Women College in Islamabad came out in a huge protest, shouted slogans, marched in the market and eventually dispersed peacefully.

Arrests in Baramulla

Four students were arrested by Baramulla police while protesting, police said. Students were protesting outside of the college and to disperse them, police used tear gas.

SSP Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain told Kashmir Life that they have arrested four students for throwing stones on private vehicles. “We ensured no student is injured but we have seven cops hurt,” Hussain said.

In neighbouring Sopore, students clashed with police, one reason being, they share the same premises with a wall in between. Tear smoke shells were used. Some of the students, while coming out of the college, had attempted certain disruptions which were controlled by the group they were part of.

“It took almost an hour and everything was all right,” SP Sopore, Harmeet Singh said. “No student was injured.”

What happened in Pulwama?

Interestingly, the government had no clue about the potential of situation reaching to an alarming situation over the Pulwama raids. Though the district administration in Pulwama had closed down the college for two days, the state police lacked any clue. In fact, certain sections within the government were surprised over the closure of colleges in Pulwama for two days.

(The World Without Us: Protest, protesters, tear smoke and a slogan. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

But the government has not done anything to investigate the happenings in Pulwama that has started pushing Kashmir to a serious crisis.

“We are looking into it to see if there was a better option to handle the situation,” SSP Pulwama, Rais Ahmad said.

Offering his version of developments, SSP said that an army vehicle was stoned by the students when it entered the premises on Wednesday last. “They had not gone for any raid but were visiting the college for meeting the administration in connection with some Sadhbavna related academic exercises.”

(A collage of the placards that were seen in the symbolic protest in the University of Kashmir. Photo: Special Arrangement)

On Wednesday, SSP said, there was stone pelting on the naka of the police that has traditionally operated from the gate of the college for many years now. “We were chasing the stone pelters who took refuge in the college,” SSP said. “There was a slight misunderstanding that police had come to make arrest which it was not.”

Asked why police should be seen raiding a college in such an explosive situation, which is unprecedented, SSP said, “there is no law of which police have made any violation.” SSP said as many as 32 cops were injured in the subsequent events. He insisted that the happenings were exaggerated.

Hospital sources told Kashmir Life, they received more than 65 students of which a good number was females who had either fainted or were feeling breathlessness. Two serious cases – a pellet injury in eye and skull fracture were referred to Srinagar.

A Police Misadventure?

However, a key political activist from the area said the Pulwama events were outcome of “police misadventure” especially by “young officers” who “in utter disregard of anger on ground” seemingly “wanted to conquer a territory”. The issue has already been taken up with the Chief Minister.

(A generation war on the main road leading to the SP College. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

“It is completely unacceptable,” PDPs youth leader Waheed Parra said. “Students have right to protest and police cannot be permitted to enter into the college premises.”

Interestingly the statement came many hours after the police had entered almost all the college premises across Kashmir.

Governor’s rule demanded

In the aftermath of the student unrest, NC and Congress have renewed their appeals for sacking the government. Omar Abdullah told reporters in Jammu that the situation in warranting governor’s rule. Earlier Ghulam Nabi Monga said the unprecedented student unrest demands governor’s rule.

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