An army recruitment rally turned violent at Tanghdar in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, forcing soldiers to shot a few blank rounds to control the situation. At least one dozen people, including security forces, were injured.
The trouble started when crowd of around 5,000 people turned up at Chamkote village of Tanghdar, more than 120-km away from Srinagar and close to the Line of Control, for around seven posts in the army's territorial unit.
“Vacancy was very less but 5,000-plus turned up. During the physical test, someone spread a rumour that the criteria have been changed. It created ruckus, leading to stone-pelting and burning of gate,” said Srinagar-based spokesman of the army.
Preliminary reports suggest those who were rejected started the trouble. The army fired a few blank rounds to control the situation as rioting left 12 injured, including eight security personnel, four from the army and others from the police.
“No one was hurt in the firing... People should exhibit patience and dignity as the army is trying its best to create job opportunities,” said the spokesman.
The police also rushed reinforcement to the area with stone pelting lasting for several hours. The fencing of the arena was also damaged by the protesters.
A candidate alleged said that the recruiting officials relaxed the rules to allow Class 8 pass-outs to appear in the physical test against the criterion of matriculates and above only.
Condemning the mismanagement of the recruitment rally, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Muzzafar Hussain Baig said, “The army and the police should have properly assessed the response to the recruitment and taken precautions accordingly.”
MP Baig said it was unfortunate that many youth seeking jobs had to face bullets while chaos prevailed at the rally as a result of “incompetent handling”.
“Disproportionate response to seven vacancies advertised by the army should have been envisaged and the last minute change in the criteria for applications was always fraught with danger,” he alleged.