Trouble at midnight as chaos rules Srinagar streets

August 14th, 2008 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 14 (IANS) An uneasy quiet descended here Thursday after slogans and loudspeaker announcements shattered the calm of the night before, with thousands of people defying curfew and taking out processions following rumours that some women had been molested by paratroopers. Local imams repeatedly made announcements through loudspeakers asking people to come out to protest against the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) allegedly molesting women in the city.

The rumour spread like the proverbial wildfire and there was panic as people rushed out of their homes in the old city. The administration was taken by surprise and finally decided to withdraw the deployment of the CRPF from many sensitive areas of the city.

“I was fast asleep when loud noises and slogan shouting woke me up. It was like the early 1990s. Everybody was on the road in our area, but hardly anybody had any idea about what actually had happened,” said Junaid Ahmad, 47, a resident of old city area.

Following the reports, the inspector general of CRPF handling the situation in the valley has been recalled. “His successor would be here Thursday,” a senior state government official told IANS here.

Following the unprecedented violence and public frenzy, authorities Thursday cancelled the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service scheduled for its fortnightly run today.

On Thursday, streets were deserted and most people preferred to stay indoors as curfew was relaxed for a few hours up till 11 a.m.

The number of injured in Wednesday’s firing following a clash between the CRPF and the people in Dellu, Pulwama district, has risen to 30. Twelve of seriously wounded were admitted to hospitals here. Doctors said the condition of four was very critical.

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