Kashmir on edge as students spar with security forces over alleged 'excesses' against Pulwama youths

Summers in Kashmir are usually the season for prosperity and business as tourists from all over India and world throng to the Valley to get away from the sweltering heat of the north and the southern peninsula. But last year's bout of violence that stretched over two months and claimed over 90 civilian lives is a marked aberration.

This year again as the Valley is already perched on the edge amid heightened tension, clashes between students and security forces have given rise to fears that a fresh round of violence might grip Kashmir, if the situation spirals out of control.

Clashes broke out between security forces and students near a college in Pulwama area on Saturday, after the security forces used force on agitating students, injuring scores of students. The students were reportedly protesting the laying down of a security check post near the college, according to a report in Hindustan Times

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

One version of the story goes that the students pelted stones at the security forces party, and the forces retaliated with smoke gas shells and fired pellets. At least 54 students were injured in the retaliatory action, with at least three critically injured, the report said.

However, as is common in such incidents, contrasting accounts of how the clashes broke out are surfacing. One version, as reported in Scroll, is that the students have alleged that Special Operations Group personnel passed lewd comments at their group, and it was only in retaliation to this that they resorted to stone pelting.

While it is extremely difficult to ascertain who instigated the clash first, the security forces have time and again come under fire for using excessive force to control the situation. While scores of unarmed civilians have fallen prey to stray bullets, many stone-pelters have also been wounded, killed and even blinded by the use of pellet guns. Such attacks have also fuelled widespread agitation in the past too, with situation escalating to violence within a matter of minutes.

This time again, the clashes in Pulwama have not been taken lightly as students across the Kashmir Valley on Monday took to the streets and clashed with the security forces.

The clashes occurred at eight places, turning the streets outside colleges into battlefields, witnesses and officials said.

It was the biggest wave of student protests in the troubled valley.

Students of SP College blocked Maulana Azad Road in Srinagar against the army's action on students at Pulwama in south Kashmir on Saturday that injured more than two dozen students.

The army had entered the Degree College Pulwama then, leading to pitched battles with students who stoned the security vehicles.

On Monday, the students rained a barrage of stones on security forces and police. The Station House Officer of Kothibagh police station was injured.

The security forces used tear gas and batons to disperse the students, who kept regrouping to engage the security forces.

Students of colleges of Pulwama and Shopian in south Kashmir and Srinagar's Amar Singh College and Women's College MA Road shouted slogans in solidarity with the students of Pulwama.

Students from Kashmir University and Central University of Kashmir in Srinagar staged peaceful protests.

In north Kashmir, students poured out of the Sopore Degree College in large numbers and shouted slogans against the assault on students.

Some students resorted to stone pelting, leading to clashes with security forces.

The police said that security forces asked the protesters to disperse but they did not budge and started pelting stones on the forces, leading to clashes. Security forces used tear smoke shells to chase away the protesters, the official said, adding clashes were going on when last reports came in.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Apr 17, 2017 16:00:57 IST

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