(Continued from Page 1)
…to the camp, shouting slogans and condemning the BSF’s “interference in religious practice.”
Two clashes took place — the first one at midnight and the other on Thursday morning. Though the situation was controlled, at 9.30 a.m. over a 1,000 people marched to the camp again, alleging that some personnel had gatecrashed into the mosque wearing shoes, desecrated the place of worship and roughed up Namazis.
During the third clash, the BSF guards opened fire. Four of the demonstrators died and 42 others sustained injuries.
Following the incidents, Ramban Deputy Commissioner Sham Vinod Mena was removed and replaced by Director of Estates M.H. Malik.
Jammu Divisional Commissioner Pradeep Gupta, who, along with Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo and Director-General of Police Ashok Prasad, flew to the spot in a helicopter, said 13 of the injured were airlifted and admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu. Mr. Kichloo and Mr. Gupta maintained that the death toll was four, though unofficial reports put it at six.
“We have resolved the crisis amicably and the funeral of all four persons passed off peacefully,” Mr. Gupta told The Hindu from Gool. He said the official team pacified the residents and they dispersed peacefully.
‘Firing from mob’
At a news conference in Jammu, BSF IG Rajeev Krishen said someone in the mob fired at the camp, resulting in gunshot wounds to constable Ram Hari. He was airlifted and admitted to GMC Hospital. The IG claimed that the BSF firing was in retaliation for an armed attack. Nobody from the camp went to the village or the mosque, he said and also denied allegations of desecration.
“The situation is extremely tense but we are trying to control it. We want to ensure that tension does not spill over to Doda and other districts,” Mr. Kichloo said.
On his arrival from New Delhi, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reviewed the situation. Sources said the Cabinet would discuss the situation on Friday.
As news of the four deaths broke, traders downed the shutters and demonstrators clashed with the police at several places in the State. The district headquarters of Ramban on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway witnessed the most violent clashes as hundreds of protesters attacked the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the police station. Two official vehicles were set on fire. The police foiled the mob’s attempts to set the DC’s office on fire. Traffic on the highway remained disrupted for six hours.
Amarnath pilgrims on their way to the Kashmir Valley were stopped amid massive traffic jams.
However, “the yatra is continuing. We have no instructions to suspend it,” said Garib Das, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udhampur.
JKLF chief held
In the Valley, demonstrators clashed with the police and the CRPF at 20 places, mostly in downtown Srinagar and Maisuma. JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik was arrested while leading a demonstration. Stone throwing, baton charge and firing of teargas shells marred the day as a shutdown was enforced in Civil Lines.
Even as most of the separatist leaders were forced to remain indoors, they issued separate calls for protests, a complete shutdown and a mass march to Lalchowk on Friday.
Separatist leaders call for shutdown, march to Lal Chowk today Ramban Deputy Commissioner removed
Separatist leaders call for shutdown, march to Lal Chowk today
Ramban Deputy Commissioner removed