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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

J&K: protests over Ramban killings, curfew in Valley

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  Jammu, July 19, 2013
First Published: 08:19 IST(19/7/2013) | Last Updated: 23:51 IST(19/7/2013)

Ramban in Jammu division remained tense and under curfew on Friday, a day after four persons were killed in alleged firing by the Border Security Force (BSF). 

The killings in Gool area of Ramban district, around 200 km from Jammu city, also cast a shadow over the Amarnath Yatra, which was suspended amid the threat of protests.

Tension also gripped Srinagar and other major towns in south and north Kashmir, where curfew was clamped early in the morning to prevent protests over the death of civilians who were protesting alleged high-handedness of BSF personnel.

Religious groups and separatists had called for protests across the valley after Friday prayers.

A heavy contingent of the police and the Central Reserve Police Force erected barricades across Srinagar in a pre-dawn operation. Spools of concertina wires were unrolled in parts of the old city to restrict the movement of vehicles.

There were reports of security forces chasing away people in sensitive parts of the old city in Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal and Saraf Kadal areas.

There are different versions of what led to the firing in Ramban.

According to locals in Ramban, protests erupted because BSF personnel had roughed up a religious leader's brother on Wednesday night following an argument over offering late-night prayers during Ramzan.

The BSF dismissed the allegation, saying a mob had attacked its camp, indulged in firing and tried to storm their storehouse of arms and ammunition around 6:30am on Thursday.  

Inspector General of BSF Jammu Frontier Rajeev Krishna said a picket of troops of 76 Battalion of BSF had intercepted a person moving in suspicious circumstances at a check-point around 10pm on Wednesday.

He refused to give details about his presence. The BSF team let him go and informed the police, the IG said. As the police were investigating the matter on Thursday morning, a mob of 700-800 people attacked the BSF post with stones injuring one constable, Krishna added.

"Keeping in view the threat to the arms and ammunitions, steps were taken with maximum restraint by the security forces."

Asked if the deaths were due to BSF firing, Krishna said, "BSF and police officials and officers were on the spot. It is difficult to say in whose firing the casualties were caused."

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has ordered an inquiry into the firing and assured that "any use of excessive force or irresponsible action shall be dealt with strictly".

Chief minister Omar Abdullah has termed the killings "unacceptable" and also ordered a magisterial enquiry to determine the exact sequence of events.

"It is unfortunate that in spite of costly lessons learnt in 2008 and 2010, some amongst us are determined to repeat past mistakes and use force against unarmed protesters. Such incidents risk throwing the entire peaceful atmosphere in jeopardy," he said.

State home minister Sajad Ahmad Kichloo, local legislator Ajaz Khan and senior National Conference leader Abdul Gani Malik stayed in Gool area on Thursday night and tried to placate the enraged locals and convince them to bury the dead peacefully.

The local deputy commissioner has already been transferred.

Meanwhile, the authorities restored internet services in the valley late on Friday, six hours after it was suspended. Following the Ramban firing, authorities had suspended internet services on mobile phones and dongle appliances in the valley, while internet speed on broadband facilities were reduced to prevent the spread of rumours. 

The Kashmir University has postponed all examinations scheduled for Friday.


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