PDP MP’s house set on fire, 4 rifles snatched away from guards and burnt
Student killed, 6 injured in Army firing in Rafiabad; death toll reaches 71 on 54th day of turbulence; around 200 injured in 100 clashes across Valley
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Aug 31: On 54th consecutive day of shutdown and turbulence across Kashmir valley on Wednesday, a separatist crowd torched the residential house of PDP’s Rajya Sabha member Nazir Ahmad Laway in Kulgam area of South Kashmir while as an 18-year-old student was killed and 6 protesters injured in Army’s firing in Rafiabad area of Sopore in North Kashmir amid more than a hundred clashes between Police and protesters.
Informed sources said that a crowd of around 100 people barged into a house belonging to Nazir Ahmad Laway at Chawalgam, one Km from Kulgam. They snatched away three Insas rifles and one self-loading rifle (SLR) from the four Policemen guarding the MP’s house and thereafter set it on fire. The guardroom and a part of the house were destroyed in the fire. However, another house on the premises, in which Laway and his family live, was not attacked. The MP’s house is just 200 meters from an Army camp which did not react.
SSP Kulgam Mohammad Irshad told STATE TIMES that 50 to 60 miscreants trooped into the guardroom on the first floor of Laway’s annexe and they relieved the guards of their weapons before setting the house on fire. “Out of the five Police guards, four were present. We have reports that the guards handed over their weapons---three Insas rifles and one SLR---without resistance to the miscreants. We are investigating if it had been already planned with the guards. The miscreants came out with the four rifles but went back and set the guardroom on fire. It gutted alongwith an adjacent meeting room and all the four rifles have reportedly perished in the fire”, SSP Kulgam said.
Mr Irshad said that the guards escaped and later three of them reported at Police Station Kulgam. He said that FIR was registered, the guards taken into custody and an investigation launched. According to him, the MP, who usually stays at his official accommodation close to SSP’s residence at Kulgam, was not present at his Chawalgam house when it was set on fire. Laway, who was not reachable on telephone, was reportedly in Srinagar when the incident occurred at his home. Ironically last week on TV, Laway had empathised with the separatists and strongly advocated New Delhi's outreach to them.
“I was at a stone’s throw from Chawalgam along with Dy SP headquarters and SHO just 15 minutes back. We dispersed a crowd at Tangbal and later arrested three stone pelters between Chansar and Okay. As soon as we reached back Kulgam, we learned that miscreants had torched Mr Laway’s house. We rushed back to Chawalgam where some miscreants were fleeing into the residential area. The fire was put out but it destroyed a portion of Mr Laway’s second house. His main residential house on the same premises has not been attacked”, Mr Irshad said.
Residences, properties and vehicles of some mainstream politicians have been attacked by angry crowds in the 54-day-long turbulence. However, it is for the first time that the guarded house of a senior leader, who happens to be the ruling PDP’s sitting MP, has been attacked and destroyed by the unruly separatist crowds.
Youth killed in Sopore
Earlier on Wednesday, sources said, troops of Rashtriya Rifles 32 Bn opened fire at Ladoora village in Sopore-Rafiabad belt in which seven civilians sustained injuries. One of them, identified as 18-year-old student Danish Manzoor Lone succumbed to injuries while being rushed to District Hospital Baramulla for medical treatment. Four of the injured were treated at Baramulla and two more referred to Srinagar. One of them, namely Ashfaq, was described as ‘very critical’.
SP Sopore Harmit Singh told STATE TIMES that one youth died and four others sustained injuries in the shootout. Army maintained in their reports that the ROP fired in the air when a crowd of the miscreants resorted to intense stone pelting on the soldiers. Police have filed FIR. Residents said that a minor clash had occurred earlier near Ladoora between some youths and Army as there was widespread anger over closedown of Fruit Mandi at Sopore where troops did not allow the traders to operate their businesses during relaxation in shutdown in the morning. Thereafter, troops walked into the village and fired indiscriminately. Four persons sustained injuries. Meanwhile, a procession emerged out of Nadihal village.
“Many people in the procession entered Ladoora when they heard that Army had opened fire to terrorise the population. Some people pelted stones which did not hit the troops. But the troops opened fire, killing Danish Lone on the spot and causing grievous injuries to two more youths”, said a resident. Official reports said that over 8,000 people attended Danish Mir’s funeral with a pro-Pakistan and anti-Indian demonstration.
Seventy-one persons, including three Police personnel, have died and thousands have sustained injuries in the 8-week-long turbulence triggered by death of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8.
Sources said that a crowd of around 1500 people attacked a CRPF camp guarding the newly established colony for migrant employees at Nutnusa on Sopore-Kupwara Road. CRPF opened fire and repulsed the attack. However, four hutments and a guardroom and three vehicles, possibly of the local residents, were damaged in the clash. CRPF later chased the unruly crowds back into the village and pitched battles continued for about two hours. Several people sustained injuries. Residents alleged that many of them were roughed up and their houses were ransacked.
Sources said that all the migrant families have deserted the CRPF-guarded colony and gone back to Jammu and other places after the current turbulence started on July 8.
Elsewhere, according to informed sources, around a hundred clashes took place between the protesters and Police/security forces across the Valley including many in the capital city. Some peaceful demonstrations were also reported from South Kashmir. Reports said that participants waved Pakistani flags and shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans in all the peaceful and violent demonstrations.
Official sources said that 55 injured persons were admitted to SMHS and around 50 were treated at other hospitals in the Valley. In all, around 200 persons are estimated to have sustained injuries in over 100 clashes at different places. Curfew was not in force anywhere in the Valley but the separatists-sponsored shutdown continued on 54th day.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]