Protesters attack, torch Bolero of ADC Ramban on highway near Pampore; Yatra convoy stopped
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR: Two civilians reportedly got killed and another was critically injured when a crowd attacked Additional Deputy Commissioner of Ramban and torched his vehicle at Lethapora, near Pampore, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway and his Personal Security Officer (PSO) opened fire on the protesters late on Tuesday night.
Authoritative sources told STATE TIMES that a crowd of protesters pelted stones on the official Bolero of ADC Ramban Babu Ram near Lethapora, close to the saffron township of Pampore, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway when it was on way to Srinagar from Ramban at 9.15 pm. The crowd forced the driver to stop and caused extensive damage to the vehicle even as Babu Ram, his driver and two PSOs jumped out.
As the protesters sighted the PSOs, they attacked them and set the vehicle on fire. During the scuffle, one of the PSOs opened fire from his AK-47 rifle that hit at least three persons. Sources said that 32-year-old Farooq Ahmad Kuchhai later succumbed to injuries near SKIMS in Srinagar while as Suhail Ahmad Wani died somewhere near Kakapora when he was being rushed to hospital. With the two fresh fatal casualties, death toll has reached 52 in the 25-day-long turbulence triggered by militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8.
DIG South Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and SP Awantipora could not be reached by telephone. Mobile phones of DC Pulwama Muneer-ul-Islam were switched off. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan maintained that one civilian had got killed and another injured. He said he was assessing the situation as a large number of the people had gathered on the spot late in the night. According to reports available with him, ADC was on way from Srinagar to Jammu when his vehicle was intercepted and attacked by the crowd.
Babu Ram, who had taken shelter at nearby company headquarters of CRPF 130 Bn on premises of the godowns of Food Corporation of India, told STATE TIMES on telephone that he was in shock and unable to narrate what happened with him and his PSOs and driver. He, however, said that an unruly mob attacked his vehicle near Lethapora.
“We were all manhandled. I was severely beaten up. People set the vehicle on fire and attempted to snatch the rifle of my PSO. Someone fired on him or a bullet hit him from the gun which was being snatched away. They failed to take the gun but took away a magazine. Thereafter, we ran away and took shelter in the CRRP camp”, Babu Ram said.
Civilian sources around the spot said that thousands of people from about a dozen neighbouring villages gathered on the highway and they were making repeated attempts to storm the camp. CRPF used tearsmoke and fired in the air to scare away the crowd. Clashes and slogans were going on when reports last came in at around midnight. Officials were apprehensive of more casualties in case the crowd stormed the camp. They said that as per SOP, CRPF could open fire to protect the camp, its personnel and armoury.
Meanwhile, sources said that the convoy of Amarnath pilgrims, that was scheduled to leave Baltal for Jammu late tonight, was stopped under orders of SSP Yatra. Unconfirmed reports said that the convoy of pilgrims that had earlier in the evening departed for Baltal from Jammu, would also be stopped around Patni Top in view of escalation of fresh trouble at Lethapora, Awantipore.
Kashmir, which came to life on Monday evening following relaxation in strike by separatists, again witnessed as shutdown on Tuesday as curfew remained in force in some parts and restrictions were in effect in rest of the Valley to maintain law and order.
Many shops and business establishments opened after sundown yesterday as the separatists had announced a relaxation in the agitation programme to allow people to buy essentials in view of the prolonged shut down since July 9 in the Valley.
However, all markets remained closed on Tuesday and public transport was off the roads in view of the strike call given by the separatists.
Curfew remained in force in six police station areas of the city, Anantnag town, Kokernag and Khanpora in Baramulla district as restrictions on assembly of four or more people continued in entire Kashmir, a police official said.
“Curfew is in place only in six police station areas of Srinagar city — Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, Batamaloo and Maharajgunj,” he said.
The separatist groups have been spearheading the agitation to protest the civilian killings during the protests following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
Protests broke out across Kashmir Valley on July 9, leading to clashes with security forces in which 49 persons have been killed and over 5600 persons injured.
The separatist camp has extended the shutdown call in Kashmir till August 5, calling for a march to Hazratbal.
Petrol bomb hurled at Naeem Akhtar’s house
Srinagar: A petrol bomb was hurled at the house of Education Minister Naeem Akhtar in Parraypora area of the city on Monday night, police said on Tuesday.
No one was hurt in the attack that was carried out by unidentified persons. “A petrol bomb was hurled at the residence of the Education Minister at Parraypora late Monday night, causing damage to the main gate,” a police official said.
Akhtar and his wife were not present in the premises as they have shifted to high security Gupkar Road after the PDP-BJP government was sworn in March last year. A petrol bomb was also hurled at the office of Road and Buildings Department at SDA colony in Bemina area of the city last night, the official said.
He said no one was hurt in the incident.
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