On a day when zonal police headquarters held a workshop earlier in the day on “imbibing a new attitude in police for bridging the gap between police and public, the police went against the dictum and used excessive force to quell protest in downtown Srinagar killing a boy with tear-gas shell and injuring six. This is fourth civilian death this month in security forces’ action.
Trouble erupted in downtown Srinagar’s Gojwara and Rajouri Kadal when some youth started pelting stones at police patrols around 4:30 pm. The police personnel swung into action and chased the stone-pelting youths into lanes and bylanes of the area.
The stone-pelting on Sundays has become a routine in downtown Srinagar. “Youths started pelting stone around 5 pm today,” said SHO Nowhatta Raja Tasleem.
The police action failed to contain the stone-pelting youths and fired teargas smoke shells into a narrow lane of Rajouri Kadal, the bastion of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Eyewitnesses told the Hindustan Times that youth assembled at Gani Stadium at Rajouri Kadal and engaged the police personnel in pitched stone battles again. “Despite tear gas shelling, police failed to disperse the youths near the stadium,” they added.
Locals allege teargas shell hit a boy in the head, injuring him seriously. The victim (16) was rushed the Sher-i-Kashmir hospital where he succumbed the injuries. Unconfirmed reports suggest the boy was from Qamarwari. Doctors who operated upon the boy said the boy was hit by a smoke shell. “He was hit in the head and his brain matter was out when he was admitted in the hospital,” said a doctor.
The news of death triggered more protests in Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal and Gojwara. Police used force to control the situation, in which six youth were injured.
The police have launched a major drive against protesters in Srinagar. Police sources said a list of know stone throwers have been compiled and circulated in seven police stations in Srinagar, which includes Maisuma, Shaheed Gunj, Nowhatta, Maharaj Ganj, Khayar, Urdu Bazar and Qamarwari. The police have been asked to for nocturnal raids and pick stone throwers.
The police are using carrot and stick method. While many stone throwers are being booked under severe acts like Public Safety Act (PSA), many are released after counseling and written assurances from the family that he will not indulge in stone throwing again, said police sources.