Tuesday, 23 July 2013

NEWS:PAKISTAN,(Kashmiri) protesters killed: How events unfolded

SRINAGAR: Iqbal Ahmad, a resident of Gool area —around 207 kilometres from Srinagar — says he received a call on his mobile phone in the intervening night of 17-18 July 2013 from a friend who informed him about the alleged sacrilege of the Holy Quran in a local Madrassah at the hands of the Indian Paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) in Dharam village, in Ramban district.

“Soon after the phone call, I called Moulana Shabir in Dharam to cross-check. He confirmed the sad incident and said the villagers have assembled in the area to protest the desecration of the Holy Quran. We also drove toward the spot at midnight,” recalls Ahmad.
Around 7,000-8,000 villagers, he says, spent the entire night on the roads and staged a peaceful sit-in. Quoting eye-witnesses, he says that at least “four BSF men, with their shoes on, had made a forced entry into the religious seminary in Dharam" and then desecrated the Quran.
Police superintendent in district Ramban, Javed Ahmad told Dawn.com “After this complaint, a police party along with a Tehsildar reached the spot on Thursday at around 2330 Hours (IST). I reached there by early Friday morning,” the police officer said.
The BSF said they fired on protesters in “self-defence” as the mobs tried to “storm” their camp. Locals dismiss the BSF statement as “rubbish”. After the protests and anger against the civilian killings in Dharam, Gool, the Indian paramilitary BSF vacated the camp on Friday. The facility in Gool, according to credible reports, has been handed over to the local police.
The news about the alleged sacrilege, according to sources, infuriated the villagers who then passed on the information to residents in adjoining areas in quick time. People assembled and demanded stern action against the “guilty BSF personnel”.
Bashaarat Masood, a Kashmiri journalist working with The Indian Express, reached Dharam on Friday. The entire Gool region, Masood says, was “strangely calm” although people were “very angry”. This anger was a result of civilian killings on Thursday.
Four civilians had been killed in firing by BSF personnel when locals, according to eye witnesses and media reports, were protesting against the “desecration” of Quran and the “beating” of a local Imam (prayer leader) outside the make-shift BSF camp there in Dharam, Gool.
At least 15 civilians, Masood told Dawn.com, had bullet injuries while scores of others were wounded in violent action by the BSF. “Villagers had assembled to stage a protest against interference in religious affairs. A poor labourer, survived by a disabled wife and two sons, is also among those killed in BSF firing.”

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