April 2003 News

Sikh Students Force Shut-down In Baramulla

5 April 2003
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: Sikh students in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla town forced a shutdown Saturday, raising anti-government slogans and pelting stones on passing traffic and police personnel. The students were protesting what they alleged was the government's failure to protect religious minorities in India's only Muslim-majority state. Their anger was sparked off after police recovered the body of RS Bali, a Sikh assistant station engineer for the public broadcaster Doordarshan's Srinagar station, from the river Jhelum on Friday. The protestors suspected foul play. Bali, who belonged to Baramulla, had been reported missing since March 23. The Sikh mob forced schools and markets to close down just as the town was returning to normal after Friday's strike observed to protest the alleged custodial killing on Wednesday of Saiful Islam, the chief commander of the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen. Employees at the Doordarshan centre in Srinagar and the local radio station have demanded an immediate inquiry into Bali's death. Some local reports quoted Bali's family sources as saying that he had been suffering from mental ailment. Separatist guerrillas gunned down 35 Sikh villagers in Chittisinghpora village of south Kashmir three years ago. In another incident, police said some personnel deployed for the security of Sikh villagers near north Kashmir's Handwara town came under heavy gunfire late Friday. Guards posted at the picket returned the fire, after which the guerrillas escaped. Secessionist guerrillas also triggered two massive improvised explosive device blasts in south Kashmir's Tral town forenoon Friday outside the headquarters of the paramilitary Border Security Force's 120 battalion. The explosives, which went off one after the other, resulted in injuries to four people, including two paramilitary personnel and two civilians.


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