May 2017 News

Tear Gas Shells Take On Stones As Student Protests Continue In Kashmir

9 May 2017
The Hindustan Times
Ashiq Hussain

Srinagar: Scores of students from prominent institutes at Lal Chowk in Srinagar continued their violent agitation on Tuesday, pelting stones at police personnel and vandalising government property. Police responded in kind, and occasionally used tear gas shells to make the agitators disperse. The clashes wreaked havoc in the city's commercial hub, disrupting traffic and business activities. According to witnesses, a number of school and college students assembled near Exchange Road and began throwing stones at a security post. Some students of Shri Pratap School even scaled the walls of the neighbourhood Women's College and targeted police vehicles plying on MA Road. Later, girl students of the college were joined by their male counterparts in shouting pro-Azadi slogans. A number of students who tried taking out a protest march were intercepted by police outside the college gates. Tear gas shells were also fired into the Women's College campus, eliciting loud shrieks from students. Similar protests were witnessed at Pulwama in south Kashmir, which the police countered with tear gas shells. The Valley has been witnessing sporadic clashes since April 17, when thousands of college and school students took out protests against alleged police high-handedness in dealing with students at the Degree College in Pulwama. Many respected people from the Valley, including senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, have expressed their disapproval over students indulging in violence. 'Appeal to students. Please go back to classrooms. Protest is registered. We need you educated,' the scribe posted on Facebook. The protests followed largescale violence sparked by the killing of eight civilians at the hands of security forces during agitations on April 9, when the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat went to the polls. Public anger was further fanned by several video clips that purportedly showed security forces indulging in human rights violations, including the use of a Kashmiri resident as a human shield. Student protests have come as a new challenge to the BJP-PDP government in Kashmir, which witnessed escalating violence in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani's encounter killing in July 2016. Inspector general of police SJM Gilani had claimed on Monday that student demonstrations have been quelled, and normalcy restored in most schools and colleges. He said some students who protested in north Kashmir's Handwara area on Saturday were 'paid' to disrupt life in the Valley. 'There were 28 incidents of students indulging in lawlessness. We are trying to counsel them and their parents, so their future is not affected,' he added.