A 55-year-old woman was critically injured when a policeman hit her head with the butt of his gun at Dadina village, as the three-day-long sectarian strife in Budgam district spilled over to a larger area, causing further violence.

“There was a clash between the people of Dadin and Babagh, some 500 metres away. Rather than going to that spot, the policemen jumped out of their vehicles and began shouting, abusing and firing tear gas shells at us. We thought they were coming to our rescue. Suddenly, they struck us. A tall policeman hit Fatima’s head with the butt of his gun and she fell. They roughed up the others and tore off our clothes. All hell broke loose,” a cousin of Fatima told The Hindu.

Fatima was admitted to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, with critical injuries in her head. About a dozen men and women of Dadina and other villages were treated at the District Hospital of Budgam.

Doctors attending to Fatima at SKIMS described her condition as “very very critical.” “Chances of her recovery are very bleak”, Dr. Ishtiaq, in-charge of ICCU at SKIMS told The Hindu.

Police allegedly barged into houses, smashed windows and doors, including religious places at Dadina, Dandoosa, Pymus and Garend Kalan. After rumours of a woman’s death, houses were set on fire at Sahipora village.

Official sources confirmed that 10 houses and two places of worship were destroyed in the fire.

Superintendent of Budgam Mohammad Irshad described the situation as “serious” and said a curfew was being imposed in areas where there were allegations of atrocities by police personnel. More paramilitary personnel were being sought, he said.