Chenab Valley In Ferment, Curfew Imposed

SRINAGAR/RAMBAN: Curfew has been imposed in Gool area of Ramban adjoining areas following widespread protests against the deaths of 8 protesters in BSF firing there early today.

Protests have also been reported from Doda, Kishtwar, Chanderkote, Banihal and several adjoining areas of the Chenab valley.

At least seven persons were killed and nearly 30 injured after the Border Security Force (BSF) fired at protesters outside their camp in Gool area of Ramban district on Thursday.

Residents alleged that BSF personnel fired indiscriminately on people protesting against paramilitary forces objection to late night Ramazan prayers (Taraweeh) by Muslim community in this remote area.

76 BSF Battalion is deployed for the security of an under construction railway line in the area where tension had built up ominously since Wednesday night.  

A local who did not want to be named said BSF personnel asked some people who had assembled in the local mosque to desist from late-night prayers.

“Following heated exchanges, the people moved away. The brother of the mosque preacher, Abdul Latif, however, started offering prayers at an abandoned bridge nearby. There was an altercation between Latif and BSF personnel, who allegedly thrashed him.”

Home Minister Sajjad Kichloo however said the youth was roaming suspiciously while the BSF deployed for security of a railway project was patrolling the area.

As the news spread thousands of protesters came out of their homes immediately after Sahari (5 a.m) today and marched towards the camp of protesting against the BSF diktat.

Initial reports said BSF personnel opened fire after angry people staged a massive protest outside the camp. Six people were killed and atleast 30 others were injured. Officials said firing took place after furious mob attacked the BSF camp. 

Many of those injured are said to be in critical condition. One of the injured succumbed to his injuries while being airlifted to a Jammu hospital.

Senior police and paramilitary officials rushed to the spot. According to reports, locals took away four bodies.

The BSF did not immediately comment on the firing. A high security alert was sounded for the entire state even as the injured were airlifted to Government Medical College, Jammu.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has ordered a probe into the firing incident.

In Srinagar, religious and separatist leaders have called for a state wide shutdown for three days to protest the Gool incident. Traffic has come to a halt at many places on the 300 km long Srinagar-Jammu highway as protesters have blocked the highway at many places.

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