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Pandits take part in Pulwama freedom rally

Accuse forces of attacking peaceful gathering
SHOWKAT DAR
Pulwama | Posted : Sep 8 2016 1:09AM | Updated: Sep 7 2016 11:43PM
Pandits take part in Pulwama freedom rally
Photo: Kamran Yousuf/GK

The local Pandits today joined the chorus of ongoing agitation in Muran, Pulwama, and also raised pro-freedom slogans along with thousands of local Muslims in a rally. The Pandits later addressed the crowd on a public address system expressing their resolve to take the movement to its logical end.

Prior to the rally, at least 120 persons were injured as security forces tried to foil the pro-freedom rally in the village.

The Pandits also were managing the arrangements for the rally.

Two among the Pandits - Badrinath Bhat, a retired educationist, and Ratan Lal, a medical practitioner- were seated along some Muslim clerics on the stage. They also addressed the gathering.

In his short speech, Dr. Ratanlal Koul, raised slogans on the stage: ‘hum kya chahtey’ (what do we want?) which was replied by ‘aazadi (freedom)’ by the people.

While addressing the gathering, Badrinaath Bhat said, “We are with our Muslim brothers all the time.”

“We are living here together and their need is our need”.

Reports said that at least 120 persons were injured this morning after forces reached the village during the rally, triggering clashes. Forces lobbed Pava shells, pellets, tear gas shells and also fired bullets in air to disperse the people, the youth in return pelted stones.

Eight of the injured were shifted to Srinagar where as others were treated in the hospitals of Rahmoo, Rajpora and Pulwama.

However later the forces returned and the rally was again held in which thousands participated.

Locals said that the forces ransacked houses and smashed window panes of dozens of houses in the village.

“The forces broke windows, smashed panes, and damaged many things in the houses,” they said.

Local Pandits blamed the forces and administration for resorting to shelling.

“Yesterday I along some Muslim brothers met DC saheb and requested them that we will peacefully organize a Jalsa in our village and he also assured us that if the Jalsa will be peaceful we will not send any police. But as we started the rally peacefully, suddenly security forces reached the village, lobbed shells, and injured the people to foil the rally,” Badrinath said.

“Today I asked the locals to organize the rally peacefully and not to pelt stones on anyone. We had kept several qualified persons there for management. But the forces without any provocation used tear smoke shells.”

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Pulwama Muneer Ul Islam said, “Actually they had said that they will organize the Jalsa in a mosque and I asked them if it will be peaceful in a mosque then force will not come there but later they had stretched tents on the top of shops. As the forces were going on the road near the village, the road had been blocked and youths pelted stones on them and the forces only retaliated.”

He said that forces did not enter the venue of rally in premises of Jamia Masjid Muran.

In the meantime eight persons have also been arrested by police during and after clashes.