11 killed as violence spreads across Kashmir (Third Lead)

September 13th, 2010 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Srinagar, Sep 13 (IANS) At least 11 people were killed across the volatile Kashmir Valley Monday after violent protests that were initially triggered by a report that copies of the Quran were desecrated in the US.
While four people were killed in Tangmarg, where a Christian missionary school was torched, four died in Badgam, one in Pampore, one in Bandipora and a seven-year-old in Charar-e-Sharif. With Monday’s deaths, the total number of people killed since the present phase of violent unrest began on June 11 has risen to 81.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was in the national capital during the day and met Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, rushed to Srinagar where he was holding an emergency meeting of his cabinet.

The latest burst of violence flared up after Iranian TV channel Press TV reported late Sunday that copies of the Quran had been burnt in the US. A pastor in Florida, US, had threatened to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks but later called off the plan.

The state government swung into action as protesters violated curfew — it was the second consecutive day of 24X7 curfew in towns in the Valley — in many parts of the city.

Mobs in north Kashmir’s Tangmarg town torched a Christian missionary school, the office of the social welfare department and a police vehicle.

As curfew continued in major towns, hundreds of villagers from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district took out processions, shouting pro-Quran and anti-America slogans. Such protests also erupted in Shalimar area of Srinagar city.

Pro-Islam and anti-US protests were also held at Humhama, Ompora, Shalteng, Shalimar, Newthead and other places in Srinagar.

In New Delhi, US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer appealed for calm, saying he was “dismayed” to see reports of a church and school in Kashmir and Punjab being attacked and destroyed by rioters.

“One misguided individual” had desecrated the Quran by tearing pages from it Saturday, Roemer said, condemning such acts as “disrespectful, intolerant, divisive and un-representative of American values.”

Large crowds also gathered in Shalteng, Ompora, Bemina and other places of Srinagar city, defying round-the-clock curfew imposed here in the wake of widespread violence that followed the separatist march to city centre Lal Chowk, led by moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on Eid Saturday.

“Curfew continues to be in force in the entire Srinagar city, south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Pulwama, Bijbehera and north Kashmir’s Baramulla and Sopore towns. The situation is under control throughout the valley,” a senior police officer said here.

“A mob attacked a post of the local armed police at Humhama in Badgam district. So, guards opened fire in which one person identified as Gulam Rasool Tantray was critically injured,” a police officer said here.

“Tantray, 50, succumbed to his injuries in the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura (SKIMS),” he added.

In Bandipora, a young man was killed as security forces fired at a mob of protesters.

“Nisar Ahmed Bhat, a protesting youth, was killed and another was injured when security forces fired at an unruly mob in Ajas village of Bandipora district today (Monday),” a police officer told IANS here.

Reports said that Bhat and Riyaz Ahmad, the other protester, sustained bullet injuries and Bhat died while being shifted to a Srinagar hospital.

In a separate incident in Badgam town, Devinder Singh, a policeman, was overrun by a truck carrying a slogan-shouting mob.

“The injured constable was shifted to Badgam hospital where he succumbed to injuries,” a police official said.

“The vehicle that carried the constable to hospital was later overturned by another violent mob outside the hospital and set ablaze,” he added.

Round-the-clock curfew has been imposed for the first time here since the present unrest started June 11.

During the last three months, the authorities would announce curfew or restrictions in vulnerable areas during the day and deployment of police and CRPF were withdrawn with dusk.

“That practice allowed us to buy at least some essentials of life from small shops in the area which would open up for a few hours in the evening. But as the authorities decided to continue with round-the-clock curfew here, nobody has ventured out in our locality,” said Abdul Majid, 39, a resident of Bohri Kadal area in Srinagar.

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