Kishtwar, J & K India, (GK NEWS NETWORK): Authorities clamped indefinite curfew and deployed army and paramilitary personnel in this mountainous township of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday following violent clashes between two communities leaving at least 2 person dead and injuries to around 30 others.
The uncontrolled mobs went on rampage and set on fire around 30 structures, including a hotel building and a patrol pump besides over half a dozen vehicles.
A youth has reportedly died in the clashes but his identity could not be ascertained immediately. The victim suffered gunshot wounds when a group of protestors fired at him near a petrol pump in Kishtwar, police sources said adding that he, along with two others injured in the incident, were rushed to the Army hospital in the area where doctors could not save him.
The other two were then taken to the Army Command hospital at Udhampur. The clashes continued despite Army patrolling the streets, a senior official said, adding more troops have been requisitioned for the trouble spots.
There were reports that body of an unidentified person was also recovered in Kishtwar outskirts but his identification could not be ascertained till late night. “The body is completely burnt and beyond recognition”, sources claimed.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ashoor Wani was quoted as having said, “Two persons have died and another twenty tree have been injured in Kishtwar clashes”.
The situation remained tense till late this evening as there were reports of unidentified youth assembling in the outskirts despite heavy deployment of army.
Trouble started on Friday morning after a group of villagers from Hullar marched towards Eidgah raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. As the protesters were on way to join Eid prayers at the historic Chowgan ground, some of them entered into an alteration with a few youth from the other community at Kuleed.
However, the situation turned violent when some police personnel, said to be Personnel Security Officers (PSOs) of a local leader, opened fire in air. They were allegedly joined by some Village Defence Committee (VDC) members, who opened fire from their houses.
A large number of people from the Eidgah rushed to the spot and entered into a clash with the youth from the other community. “There was heavy exchange of stones and bricks before the police rushed to the spot”, eyewitnesses said adding that some youth, believed to be VDC members, also fired on the mob injuring around five persons.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Farooq Kaiser, who reached the spot alongwith a huge continent of police, was also attacked. He received head injury but was said to be stable.
The mobs, on the both sides, went of rampage and torched over thirty structures, including a petrol pump, a hotel and over two dozen shops. At least 7 vehicles, mostly of police, were also set ablaze by the mobs, as a free for all situation prevailed in the township in absence of the police deployment.
“Around 30 youth have received injuries in the clashes. About 5 of them were having bullet wounds and 4 of them were stabbed”, sources claimed. However, condition of all of them was stated to be out of danger.
Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Muhammad Saleem, however, said that about 25 shops were set ablaze by the mobs and 8 youth were injured in the clashes.
“Initially police also fired at the mob from a particular community as they joined the VDC members”, an eyewitness claimed adding there was completely a chaos and panic in the township.
A senior police officer, however, denied of having fired at the mob. “There were some people within in the mob, which fired at each other”, they said.
“Neither security forces nor the army fired at the mobs. Two columns of the army were moved in after the situation turned ugly. The town is calm now after an indefinite curfew was imposed,” he said.
Immediately after reports of the communal clashes, state Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Prasad, Commissioner (Home) Suresh Kumar and additional DGP (Coordination) PL Gupta rushed to Kishtwar to take stock of the situation and supervise law and order.
On the district administration’s request, two columns of the army were deployed.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah directed senior state and civil officials including police chief Ashok Prasad to rush to the scene and try and control the situation.
Minister of State for Home Sajjad Kichloo was already in the area for his Eid celebrations. However, he could not move out of his Dak Banglow because of the clashes.
“The minister remained confined to Dak Banglow for around 2 hours as the violent mob fought pitched battle with police and torched about three police vehicles”, eyewitnesses said.
Meanwhile, an official spokesman said that a meeting of civil society and representatives of political parties, trade unions, Chamber of Commerce ,Red Cross Society and prominent citizens was called today by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and senior Ministers Raman Bhalla and Sham Lal Sharma.
Prominent among those who attended the meeting included Devinder Singh Rana ,MLA’s Ashok Khajuria ,Chaman Lal Gupta ,Jugal Kishore Sharma ,Divisional Commisioner Jammu Shantmanu,Deputy Comissioner Ajeet Kumar Sahu .DIG Jammu Kathua Range Shakeel Beigh ,SSP Jammu Atul Goel and other senior officers.
“The Divisional Administration informed that August 9 morning some anti-social elements picked up a fight in Kishtwar which turned violent and caused further disturbance to the large gathering on the occasion of Eid festival and as result of a rumour mongering the incident spread to other parts of the city where anti-social elements looted shops and indulged in arson,” the spokesman said.
He said curfew was imposed in entire Kishtwar district. DGP, Principal Secretary Home and other senior officers rushed to Kishtwar and a request was made to the army and six columns of army were moved into Kishtwar town to assist the civil administration.
The spokesman said one person had died while four persons sustained injuries during the clashes .The injured were airlifted to Government Medical College Jammu for treatment.
“After listening to views of various groups, the Deputy Chief Minsiter appealed for maintaining peace, harmony and brotherhood and requested not to politicise the issue. Such incidents should be condemned at all fronts,” the spokesman said.
The Deputy Chief Minister, according to the spokesman, requested that unified efforts should be made by all political parties and civil society to maintain peace.
He stressed that the priority should be to ensure that the situation is brought under control and also assured that after ascertaining the facts adequate relief will be provide to the affected.
Schools to remain closed
Meanwhile, Divisional Administration in Jammu has ordered that all the government and private schools and colleges shall remain closed on 10th August, 2013.