Curfew In Kulgam Areas As Woman Dies “In Cordon”

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SRINAGAR: Curfew was clamped in parts of Kulgam town in South Kashmir on Monday following protests and violence over the death of a local woman during a mid-night cordon-and-search operation in the outskirts.

The Khadwani and Keemwah areas of the town were put under curfew due to severe clashes and a large procession that blocked the Kulgam-Anantnag highway carrying the woman’s body.

Locals claimed that 60-year-old Nazeera Begum died because of being kicked in the abdomen by troops who, they said, had burst into their house on Sunday night after breaking down the door, but the police said that her home was outside the army cordon.

The government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death and registered a case under section 174 of the RPC, even as two ministers visited Nazeera’s home in the Chaddar village, assuring the family of a thorough investigation.

Her body, taken into custody by the police while breaking up the large procession blocking the Kulgam-Anantnag Road, was handed back to the family after an autopsy at the district to determine the cause of death.

According to locals, Nazeera, a mother of seven, had been taken to hospital after being hit during the night, but doctors declared her dead.  

“Out of fright, the family had not answered the door during the night when soldiers came banging,” they said. “But the troopers smashed windows and burst in by tearing down the door.”      

“The inmates were harassed and beaten, and the elderly woman was kicked in the stomach,” they said.

“She was rushed to hospital where doctors declared her dead,” they said.

According to the police, Nazeera’s house fell outside the cordon the army and the SOG had thrown around some houses in her village on Sunday night on reports of militants being present in the house of one Ghulam Qadir Ganai.

“Nazeera Begum, wife of Ali Muhammad Dar, had complained of ill health during the night, and was taken to hospital, where doctors pronounced her dead,” the police media centre here, quoting the Kulgam police, said.

The defence spokesman here, Col JS Brar, said that the army had nothing to do with her death.

Locals in Chaddar said that Nazeera’s body was kept at home for the night, and the village set out for the Kulgam town this morning, bearing the coffin.

More people joined the procession on its way, swelling it into a large demonstration which held up traffic on the highway to Anantnag, reports said.

Protests broke out in several adjoining areas as the police cracked down on the demonstration with cane charges and tear gas when it refused budge from the road, reports said.

At least ten persons, including policemen, were injured in the clashes.

With curfew imposed in Keemwah and Khadwani, the minister of state for home, Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, and the minister for social welfare, Sakina Itoo, toured the trouble-hit areas, and visited Nazeera’s family.

Kitchloo said that the woman had died of a cardiac arrest, but the district administration had been directed to conduct an inquiry.

The probe, to be headed by the district’s additional deputy commissioner, is to submit its report within one week.   

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