Hurriyat Fights Hurriyat In Srinagar, People Fight Police In Sopore
3 August 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: While capital city observed yet another shutdown, two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference clashed with each other in downtown Srinagar and people clashed with Police over an incident of alleged molestation by troops in Haigam area of Baramulla district today. With umpteenth shutdown in the capital city-this time on J&K Realistic Forum leader Hilal Ahmed War's call-followers of Syed Ali Shah Geelani's faction of the Hurriyat came under an attack by those said to followers of the rival faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Nullah Mar near Bohrikadal. Eyewitnesses said that some people resorted to stone pelting on Geelani's modest rally after Friday prayers. As Geelani's supporters began yelling 'jis hurriyat mein Geelani nahi, woh Hurriyat manzoor nahi' (Hurriyat sans Geelani is not acceptable) and 'Bharat ko jo yaar hai, gadaar hai gadaar hai', Mirwaiz followers began pelting stones and brickbats on the rally. Sources said that the warring factions remained engaged with the clash and later dispersed. Geelani was marching towards Nayid Kadal in the Mirwaiz stronghold after delivering a speech at a local mosque. Earlier last year, supporters of JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik and those of Mirwaiz Umar had bitterly clashed with each other when JKLF had set up an office in the same area. Reports from Sopore said that over 200 residents of Trumgund Haigam staged a demonstration and later blocked Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road for about two hours in protest against an incident of alleged molestation. Like last evening, they alleged that troops of a unit of RR 29 Bn had molested a woman, Jana Begum W-o Sonaullah, when she was working at her vegetable farm in the village outskirts. Police used tearsmoke and baton charge to remove the mob when the demonstrators refused to take assurance from SP Sopore that the matter would be investigated and the troops, if any found guilty, would be got punished under law. Later, a group of residents and Police officials met with Commanding Officer of R 29 Bn at Haider Baigh, near Pattan, who assured them their grievances against a JCO would be redressed. The JCO has been allegedly harassing the residents on different excuses. SP Sopore said that Police conducted a preliminary inquiry and observed that a patrol party of RR 29 Bn had called a boy, namely Mushtaq Ahmed, who ran away but was chased and captured. His 55-year- old mother, Jana, who was working at her farm with son Mushtaq, rushed to the troops and beseeched them not to beat up her son. Troops instead slapped the boy as well as his mother, seized Mushtaq's I-card and released him with the direction that he should appear before Commanding Officer at their Haider Baig headquarters next day. He confirmed some soldiers having beaten up Mushtaq and his mother but asserted that Police did not found any substance in the allegation that Jana had been molested. Since yesterday, residents have been alleging that Jana had been molested and a gang rape had been attempted on her. He said that CO of the battalion had assured to investigate the substantial allegation according to which a JCO in Haigam area had been harassing and humiliating residents without any valid reason. The JCO, if found guilty, would be removed from Haigam area by his senior officers, he said.