50 wounded in protests against Amarnath land allotment

June 27th, 2008 - 12:32 am ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 26 (IANS) At least 50 people, including 12 security personnel, were injured Thursday in violent protests across Kashmir against land allotment to Amarnath shrine authorities, paralyzing life in the Valley. Zeeshan Bashir, 19, was allegedly fired upon by the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers in Kawdara area of Old City in Jammu and Kashmir summer capital Srinagar as a mob resorted to heavy stone throwing on a security force picket.

Zeeshan was rushed to the hospital where attending doctors described his condition as critical.

Another civilian identified as Muhammad Rafiq, 23, sustained bullet injuries in Kawdara and was being treated in the Soura Medical Institute.

Police had to resort to repeated teargas shelling and baton-charging at dozens of places in the city.

Protesters also resorted to violence against police in Anantnag town in south Kashmir.

Inspector General of Police S.M. Sahai told IANS that strict instructions had been given to police and the CRPF to maintain utmost restraint while handling mobs in the Kashmir Valley.

Protests also broke out in the northern district of Ganderbal where police had to use force to disperse unruly mobs.

Authorities here decided to impose extra-ordinary security restrictions Friday especially in the Old City areas where they fear violence after the Friday prayers.

The state cabinet March 5 allotted 40 hectares of forest land in Baltal of north Kashmir to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for facilities of pilgrims.

Board chief executive Arun Kumar, however, said the SASB was going to make concrete structures on the allotted land which now was under the board’s proprietorship.

The state government rebutted him and said the land had not been allotted to the board but temporarily diverted to it without any authority to build permanent structures there.

Since then there has been an raging controversy that has snow-balled into major protests both in the Valley and the Jammu region over the issue which has assumed communal overtones.

Meanwhile, pilgrims to the Amarnath cave shrine carried on with the pilgrimage and no untoward incident or interruption of the yatra was reported either from the south Kashmir Anantnag route or from the north Kashmir Baltal route.

Authorities here said so far more than 300,000 pilgrims had performed this year’s annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine that houses the Shiva Lingam made of ice or the stalagmite structure believed by the devotees to symbolize the mythical powers of Lord Shiva.

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