Thousands of students on Monday hit streets across disputed Kashmir region and staged massive protests against the local police’s bid to allegedly raid a college in the south of the Valley.
Police and armed forces action in Pulwama Degree College had left 54 of students wounded amid high pitched stone-battles on Saturday last week. The large-scale clashes by students across Kashmir during protests on Monday prompted state government to gag internet.
Hundreds of students on the call of pro-freedom Kashmir University Students’ Union took out a rally from SP College and Women’s College — in capital Srinagar– at MA Road in city centre in the morning and staged pro-freedom and anti-India protests. As the protests grew stronger along MA Road and protesters tried to march towards Lal Chowk, police swung into action and used water-cannons and teargas shells against the protesting students.
The students retaliated by resorting to heavy stone pelting from many sides including SP College entrance and Women’s College. As the clashes ensued, police fired dozens of tear gas shells inside the premises of both SP College and Women’s College but the unfazed students including girls continued pelting stones.
The clashes in the city centre created chaos and panic in the nearby areas and with the passage of time the protests swelled. Police also used pellets against the SP College students during which one youth received pellet injury in his eye.
As soon as the news about violent clashes spread, hundreds of students from Gandhi Memorial College Baba Demb, Bemina Degree College and Amarsingh College Gogji Bagh also took out protest rallies and staged anti-India protests. The students at Baba Demb and Bemina Degree College clashed with police and engaged it in pitched stone-pelting battles. Police used dozens of tear gas shells to disperse the students.
As the clashes continued in and outside city’s prime colleges, they then spread to Regal Chowk, Residency Road, Polo View Bar Bar Shah, Nowhatta, Bhori Kadal and Naid Kadal where youths pelted stones on police, resulting in partial shutdown of markets. Additional contingents of police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in all troubled areas. The clashes also erupted outside SSM School in Parrayppora between students and police.
The protests spread to all other nine districts of the Valley where students in thousands hit the streets. Even in remote areas, students of higher secondary schools staged massive pro-freedom protests. In Pulwom district of south Kashmir, the authorities had already announced closure of Degree College fearing protests but massive clashes erupted at Murran Chowk, Newa, Main Market, Pampore, Tral, Haal and in other areas between student protesters and government forces. Police used tear gas, pellets and also fired in air to contain protests. There was complete shutdown in Pulwom Town.
The neighbouring Shupian and Kulgam districts also witnessed large-scale student protests on the call of KUSU. The students in Shupian and Kulgam townships clashed with government forces in and outside their college premises. Police used tear gas shells against the protesters. In Anantnag district, student protests erupted at Khanbal, Vejbuer, Dooru, Shahabad and other areas.
In central Kashmir, massive clashes raged at Ganderbal town between hundreds of students and government forces. According to witnesses, the protesting students resorted to intense stone-pelting on government forces. The town was rattled as police lobbed scores of tear gas shells to disperse the students but they continued to engage police in stone-pelting. The clashes continued for several hours. There was only one protest in Budgam district and that was held by students in Main Town.
The north Kashmir districts also witnessed large-scale student protests. At Varmul, few thousand students from Government Degree College Boys and Government College for Women staged massive protests and marched on the streets of the Town. Police used force to disperse the student protesters and also arrested many of them. At Sopore, massive clashes erupted between student protesters and police in main town areas. The protests by students were also held in Bandepur and Kupwor districts.
The students of Kashmir University, Central University and Islamic University of Science and Technology also staged massive protests but they concluded peacefully.
Due to heightened tensions and intensified protests, government directed telecom authorities to snap high speed 4G and 3G services in the Valley. After government directions, only 2G services were functional. The speed of broadband has also been reduced by the concerned BSNL on the directions of State Government, top sources said.
In the meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan issued an order and directed closure of all universities, colleges and higher secondary schools in Kashmir Valley tomorrow on April 18. The order has been apparently issued to scuttle more protests in the region.
A police spokesman in a statement said: “Students of different colleges protested at some places in Kashmir Valley today. While at most of the places the students protested inside their college premises, at few places the students assembled on the roads and indulged in stone pelting thus disrupting the movement of general people and traffic on busy roads.