Kashmir: 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 Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban district on Thursday.
According to locals, the protests erupted after the brother of a religious leader was allegedly roughed up by the BSF and Quran was desecrated on Wednesday night following an argument over offering late-night prayers during Ramzan.
Thousands of protesters surrounded the camp of 76 BSF Battalion around 5am and started throwing stones. Early reports said BSF personnel fired teargas shells to drive away the protesters, but opened fire after the camp came under attack.
The BSF did not immediately comment on the firing in Ramban, around 200 km from Jammu city. A high security alert was sounded for the entire state even as the injured were airlifted to Government Medical College, Jammu.
Senior police and paramilitary officials rushed to the spot. According to reports, locals took away four bodies.
In Srinagar, religious and separatist leaders called for a statewide shutdown in protest on Friday.
Tension had built up in Ramban, where the 76 BSF Battalion is deployed for the security of an under construction railway line, 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 moulvi of the mosque, Abdul Latif, however, started offering prayers at an unused bridge nearby. There was an altercation between Abdul Latif and BSF personnel, who allegedly thrashed him.”
Preliminary reports from the government had a different version. Minister of state for home Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo said a BSF patrolling party had intercepted a youngster roaming under suspicious circumstances. The youngster, identified as one Shabir, was questioned about his presence in the area and may have been beaten up by the security personnel, Kitchloo added.
He said disturbance was fuelled by statements from the moulvi of a local madrasa who denounced the action of the security personnel as having been sacrilegious.