Central troops gone, Baramulla still on the boil

2 July 2009
The Hindustan Times
Ashiq Hussain

Srinagar: Baramulla remained on the boil on Wednesday as the death toll in firing by security forces over the last two days rose to four with yet another young man, who had been shot in the head, losing his life. The state government, however, moved swiftly to make remedies by ordering the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which was responsible for the firing, out of the district on Tuesday night. It has also registered a case of murder against CRPF men for unprovoked firing on Tuesday, which caused the death of a local youth, Fayaz Ahmed Gojiri. The state armed police is replacing the CRPF, Liaqat-ul-Zaman Deva, district magistrate Baramulla told HT. This scenic town of 65,000 people, on the banks of the Jhelum river, 52 km north of Srinagar, has seen violent protests since Sunday, when constables on duty at a local police station allegedly misbehaved with a woman. The woman, Hasina Akhtar, had gone to the police station to enquire about her husband, whom the police had detained, in connection with the kidnapping of a minor girl. Soon after Hasina left the police station, angry crowds gathered around it and began pelting stones. In Delhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the decision to withdraw the CRPF was taken after CM Omar Abdullah called him and said that state police was ready to take over responsibility of the district. The state governments response to the crisis has been strikingly different from its reaction to the earlier flare up in Shopian in South Kashmir where two young women died mysteriously on May 30. Protests have rocked the Valley all ever since Abdullah initial remark, which repeated the police version that the women had merely drowned. A judicial enquiry has since confirmed they were raped and murdered. In hindsight, I should have said no comment then, Omar Abdullah had said when the crisis was at its height. In future I will be careful. His reaction to Baramulla reveals he meant what he had said.