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Protests over Shopian report rock Kashmir, 12 injured

By Mukhtar Ahmed
Last updated on: December 15, 2009 14:46 IST
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At least 12 people, including two policemen, were on Tuesday injured as violent clashes between groups of youth and police rocked different parts of Kashmir valley during a strike to protest the Central Bureau of Investigation's report in the Shopian case.

The Majlis-e-Mushawarat has called for a shutdown across Kashmir on Tuesday to protest against the report of the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Shopian rape and murder case. The Hurriyat Conference's moderate faction has supported the strike.

Shops, business establishments remained shut in Srinagar and vehicles stayed off the roads. Private transport was plying in some parts of the city.

The CBI's report on the Shopian case had sparked off an agitation in the Kashmir valley on Monday, when the families of the two women, who were allegedly raped and murdered in Shopian, refused to accept the findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation's report and burnt it outside the Jammu and Kashmir high curt.

In their final report submitted to the high court, the CBI has given a clean chit to the accused, and stated that Neelofar Jan (22) and her sister-in-law Aasiya (17) had drowned in the village stream.

The clashes erupted at nearly a dozen places in Srinagar, two places in north Kashmir's Baramulla and south Kashmir's Pulwama town when police stopped hundreds of people from taking out processions.

Chanting anti-CBI slogans, groups of youth took to the streets at a dozen places in Srinagar including Bohrikadal, Eidgah, Batmaloo, Natipora, Kawdara, Jamia Masjid, Maisuma, Qammerwari and Barzalla and pelted stones at security forces.

The police used batons and teargas to control the crowd, the sources said, adding that four persons were injured in the clashes. However, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Farooq Ahmed assured that the situation was under control.

"Stray incidents of stone pelting were reported from some areas but the situation is well under control," he said.

At Bohrikadal in the old city, fire broke out in a house during the clashed and efforts are going on to douse the flames. Locals alleged that the fire was caused by indiscriminate teargas shelling by police. However, the police denied the charge. A spokesman of the fire department said efforts were on to control the fire.

Sources said eight persons, including two policemen, were injured in intense clashes at Cement Bridge in Baramulla and Hathi Shah in Sopore town, 55 kms from Srinagar. Groups of youth also clashed with the police in Pulwama district town, 32 kms from Srinagar, but there were no reports of any casualties, the sources said.

Hundreds of people, shouting slogans against the CBI,  took out a march in Shopian town. However, the protestors dispersed peacefully after visiting the house of the deceased women and assured full support to the family.

The CBI has also filed charge sheets against six doctors, five lawyers and two others for fabricating the evidence that led to huge protests in the area. The CBI will now present the report in-camera, in the chamber of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court chief justice, as the families of the victims did not accept the findings in the earlier report.

On September 12, the Jammu and Kashmir high court had granted bail to the four policemen who were accused of having a role in the case. The policemen -- former Superintendent of Police of Shopian Javed Iqbal Mattoo, Deputy Superintendent of Police Rohit Baskota, Station House Officer Shopian Shafiq Ahmed and Sub-inspector Gazi Abdul Rehman -- were released on payment of a bond of Rs 50000 each. The four policemen had been accused of destroying evidence related to the case.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said in a statement, "The inability of the government to properly investigate the death of two young women in Shopian will not only define for all times the Omar Abdullah government, but would further erode the faith of the people in institutions of the state at local and central levels'.

She alleged "It now seems that whole charade of investigation by multiple agencies; one after the other, was aimed at shielding the culprits rather than bringing them to book."

Additional Input: ANI/PTI

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Mukhtar Ahmed in Srinagar