Sixteen people were killed Monday as furious mobs clashed with
security forces and attacked government property across the
Kashmir Valley in protests that were initially triggered by a
report that copies of the Quran were desecrated in the US.
While six people were killed in the resort town of Tangmarg, where
a Christian missionary school was torched, seven died in Badgam,
including a seven-year-old, one in Pampore and one in Bandipora.
Sources said that in south Kashmir's Anantnag town a youth,
identified as Maroof Ahmad Nath, was allegedly chased by the
security forces during protests after which he jumped into the
Jhelum river and drowned. The police refused to confirm the death
till the body is recovered.
With Monday's deaths, the total number of people killed since the
present phase of violent unrest began on June 11 has risen to 86.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was in the national capital
during the day and met Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress
president Sonia Gandhi, rushed to Srinagar where he was holding an
emergency meeting of his cabinet.
The latest burst of violence flared up after Iranian TV channel
Press TV reported late Sunday that copies of the Quran had been
burnt in the US. A pastor in Florida, US, had threatened to burn
copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
but later called off the plan.
The state government swung into action as protesters violated
curfew -- it was the second consecutive day of 24X7 curfew in
towns in the Valley -- in many parts of the city.
North Kashmir's Tangmarg town witnessed the worst violence as mobs
torched a Christian missionary school, the office of the social
welfare department and a police vehicle.
At least six people were killed in violence in the town during the
"Mobs in Tangmarg have virtually torched the entire public
property in the town including the local treasury, the social
welfare office, the office complex of the tehsildar including his
official residence, office complex of the block development
officer, a tourism department cafeteria and some other offices
there," a police official said.
"Furious mobs refused to relent despite baton charges, tear smoke
shelling and aerial firing following which the security forces had
no option, but to use firearm," he said.
The dead in Tangmarg have been identified as Abdul Qayoom, Tariq
Ahmad Ganai, Muhammad Iqbal Malik, Mudasir Ahmad Parray, Abdul
Majid and Afaq Ahmad.
Doctors in the Tangmarg hospital have, however, said that more
than 36 civilians had reported at the hospital with injuries, many
of them having bullet wounds.
"We referred most of the injured persons to Srinagar for
treatment," an attending doctor said in Tangmarg.
Reports reaching here said the unrelenting mobs continued to
target security forces and public property in the town.
In central Badgam district seven people, including a woman and a
seven-year-old, were killed in unrelenting violence.
The woman identified Rafiqa Bano died in clashes between the mobs
and the security forces in Ompora area while seven-year-old child
Danish Nabi was killed in Charar-e-Sharif.
Others killed in Badgam have been identified as Gulam Rasool
Tantray, Nisar Ahmad Kuchay, Adil Ahmad Lone, Showkat Ahmad Mir
and police constable Devender Singh.
Singh was overrun by a truck carrying a slogan-shouting mob.
"The injured constable was shifted to Badgam hospital where he
succumbed to injuries," a police official said.
"The vehicle that carried the constable to hospital was later
overturned by another violent mob outside the hospital and set
ablaze," he added.
As curfew continued in major towns, hundreds of villagers from
south Kashmir's Pulwama district took out processions, shouting
pro-Quran and anti-America slogans. Such protests also erupted in
Shalimar area of Srinagar city.
Pro-Islam and anti-US protests were also held at Humhama, Ompora,
Shalteng, Shalimar, Newthead and other places in Srinagar.
In New Delhi, US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer appealed for calm,
saying he was "dismayed" to see reports of a church and school in
Kashmir and Punjab being attacked and destroyed by rioters.
"One misguided individual" had desecrated the Quran by tearing
pages from it Saturday, Roemer said, condemning such acts as
"disrespectful, intolerant, divisive and un-representative of
Large crowds also gathered in Shalteng, Ompora, Bemina and other
places of Srinagar city, defying round-the-clock curfew imposed
here in the wake of widespread violence that followed the
separatist march to city centre Lal Chowk, led by moderate
Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on Eid Saturday.
"Curfew continues to be in force in the entire Srinagar city,
south Kashmir's Anantnag, Pulwama, Bijbehera and north Kashmir's
Baramulla and Sopore towns. The situation is under control
throughout the valley," a senior police officer said here.
In Bandipora, a young man was killed as security forces fired at a
mob of protesters.
"Nisar Ahmed Bhat, a protesting youth, was killed and another was
injured when security forces fired at an unruly mob in Ajas
village of Bandipora district today (Monday)," a police officer
told IANS here.
Reports said that Bhat and Muhammad Rafiq, the other protester,
suffered bullet injuries and Bhat died while being shifted to a
Round-the-clock curfew has been imposed for the first time here
since the present unrest started June 11.
Police said over 60 people, including security men and protesters,
have been injured across the Kashmir Valley.