March 2001 News

Curfew reimposed in Baramulla town

26 March 2001
The Asian Age

Srinagar: Curfew was reimposed on Kashmir’s northwestern town of Baramulla as violence erupted there again during a 3-hour relaxation from 6 am on Monday. Baramulla and several other areas in the predominantly Muslim Jammu and Kashmir witnessed disturbances during the past one week over the desecration of the holy Quran in neighbouring Punjab and New Delhi. In fresh clashes between the agitating mobs and policemen, several people including two cops were injured in Baramulla, 55 km from here. The district authorities judging the mood of the townsfolk who are highly agitated over the desecration of the Quran by the hard-line Hindu activists in New Delhi and Amritsar and the killing of a local youth in police firing at a protest demonstration in Baramulla last Friday decided to reimpose the curfew on Old Town. Reports said that after the groups of youth raising pro-freedom slogans and demanding ‘gallows’ for those who indulged in sacrilegious acts took to the street, the police used batons to push them back in dark alleys. In their action the cops also forced their entry into many residential houses at Mohalla Jalal Sahib and some other localities of Old Town only to ransack them and ruthlessly beat up the inmates. Several residents were injured, one of them — 82-year-old Abdul Ahad Sheikh — fell unconscious, reports said. A housewife, Firdousa Begum, was also injured in the attack by cops and another civilian Mushtaq Ahmed had to be admitted in hospital after he got injured in the clash between the riot police and a mob earlir. The police arrested 15 persons on charges of rioting, official sources said. The district magistrate Sheikh Hussain immediately rushed to the scene of the police “highhandedness” and apologised over the misconduct of the cops. He offered a glass of water to the octogenarian resident-Ahad Sheikh-in an attempt to pacify the angry people. The residents complained to the district magistrate that the policemen not only beat up the inmates but also ransacked their houses and looted valuables. A police, spokesman, however, denied the charges saying that during the curfew relaxation in the old town and the interior of Baramulla minor incidents of stone pelting were reported. He added the situation was brought under control and curfew reimposed in Old Town as a precautionary measure. On Friday, a 17-year old boy was killed and another wounded in the CRPF firing on a mob protesting the burning of the Quran. A rampaging mob also torched a Shiva temple following police firing. Since, the town is under curfew with a few hours’ relaxation on Sunday which had passed off peacefully with only minor incidents of stone-pelting reported. The civil lines area along the southern shore of the Jhelum, not under curfew, and most other places in Baramulla’s neighbourhood continued to reel under strikes and street demonstrations by agitating crowds. For the fourth-day running on Monday. However, life was limping back to normalcy in summer capital Srinagar and many other areas in the Valley as traders and transporters returned to work after several days’ of protests and disturbances over the desecration of the holy book. Curfew in border town of Poonch was also relaxed again for several hours on Monday with improvement in the situation. However, Poonch as well as neighbouring town of Rajouri remained tense over the sacrilegious acts by the Hindu activists. Meanwhile, in an encounter with the counter-insurgency special operation group of the local police which was assisted by the security forces, two militants belonging to the Hezb-ul-Mujahedin were killed in village Pinglana in southern Pulwama district. The slain militants were identified as Manzoor Ahmed Butt and Hilal Ahmed Naiko. A security force man also lost his life in the clash, police said. In an ambush by militants, a special police officer Muhammad Sidiq was killed in Duban area in Bandipore, police said.


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