August 2003 News

Tension in Skardu as mob torches shops and offices

19 August 2003
The Daily Times
Ibrahim Shahid

GILGIT: Tension gripped Skardu city on Tuesday as an angry mob pelted hundreds of offices, hotels, schools and vehicles with stones, severely damaging some buildings and a reservations office of Pakistan International Airline (PIA), a senior Northern Areas (NA) administration official said.Talking to Daily Times, the official said around 60 students from various schools and colleges gathered outside the Divisional Public School (DPS) to protest against the detention of fellow students who were arrested on August 15 for allegedly burning the office and vehicle of the Skardu superintendent of police (SP).Police sources said the angry mob started marching from the DPS towards the Skardu Degree College and threw stones at every shop, office and vehicle that crossed their path. They said the riots began on August 15 after a dispute over admissions but the real issue was the syllabus. The dispute over the syllabus became serious on Tuesday when local nationalist students and political bodies joined the protestors.The mob also raided the FG High School Skimadan and FG Boys High School-1 Skardu. Local residents said the students ransacked all the motels and hotels in the town. They said the Frontier Constabulary and the police fired warning shots and teargas as the crowd reached the deputy commissioner's office but without much effect. Some police officials were also seen making a hasty getaway to avoid trouble. Residents said the mod dispersed when a local Shia leader, Agha Ali Mousavi, intervened and stopped the students from doing further damage to public and private property. NA Home Secretary Ahmed Khan rushed to the area from Gilgit and at least 30 cases were registered against unidentified people for instigating the riots. An official said all public and private offices would remain closed for six days. Meanwhile, Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, a central Shia leader in the NA, announced a region-wide campaign against the current syllabus in educational institutes in the NA.


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