Bloody Monday leaves 16 dead across Kashmir (Fourth Lead)

September 13th, 2010 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Srinagar, Sep 13 (IANS) Sixteen people were killed Monday as furious mobs clashed with security forces and attacked government property across the Kashmir Valley in protests that were initially triggered by a report that copies of the Quran were desecrated in the US.
While six people were killed in the resort town of Tangmarg, where a Christian missionary school was torched, seven died in Badgam, including a seven-year-old, one in Pampore and one in Bandipora.

Sources said that in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town a youth, identified as Maroof Ahmad Nath, was allegedly chased by the security forces during protests after which he jumped into the Jhelum river and drowned. The police refused to confirm the death till the body is recovered.

With Monday’s deaths, the total number of people killed since the present phase of violent unrest began on June 11 has risen to 86.

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.

North Kashmir’s Tangmarg town witnessed the worst violence as mobs torched a Christian missionary school, the office of the social welfare department and a police vehicle.

At least six people were killed in violence in the town during the day.

“Mobs in Tangmarg have virtually torched the entire public property in the town including the local treasury, the social welfare office, the office complex of the tehsildar including his official residence, office complex of the block development officer, a tourism department cafeteria and some other offices there,” a police official said.

“Furious mobs refused to relent despite baton charges, tear smoke shelling and aerial firing following which the security forces had no option, but to use firearm,” he said.

The dead in Tangmarg have been identified as Abdul Qayoom, Tariq Ahmad Ganai, Muhammad Iqbal Malik, Mudasir Ahmad Parray, Abdul Majid and Afaq Ahmad.

Doctors in the Tangmarg hospital have, however, said that more than 36 civilians had reported at the hospital with injuries, many of them having bullet wounds.

“We referred most of the injured persons to Srinagar for treatment,” an attending doctor said in Tangmarg.

Reports reaching here said the unrelenting mobs continued to target security forces and public property in the town.

In central Badgam district seven people, including a woman and a seven-year-old, were killed in unrelenting violence.

The woman identified Rafiqa Bano died in clashes between the mobs and the security forces in Ompora area while seven-year-old child Danish Nabi was killed in Charar-e-Sharif.

Others killed in Badgam have been identified as Gulam Rasool Tantray, Nisar Ahmad Kuchay, Adil Ahmad Lone, Showkat Ahmad Mir and police constable Devender Singh.

Singh 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.

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.

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 Muhammad Rafiq, the other protester, suffered bullet injuries and Bhat died while being shifted to a Srinagar hospital.

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

Police said over 60 people, including security men and protesters, have been injured across the Kashmir Valley.

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