Curfew in Ramban district; BSF says fired in self-defense
SRINAGAR (TIP): A curfew was imposed in Ramban district around 5.30 pm (India Time) July 18 after widespread protests broke out across the region in protest against the BSF opening fire in “self-defense” in the Gool area this morning. Four persons were killed and 42 injured in the firing. “Four persons died in the firing, while 42 were injured,” Ramban Deputy Commissioner Sham Vinod Meena told the media.
“There is no communal tension, yet considering the volatile situation, I issued orders for imposing a curfew around 5.30 pm,” he said. Two border guards were also injured in the incident; one of them sustained firearm injury in the stomach. He has been admitted to Government Medical College and Hospital here. Following the incident, a batch of 1,061 Kashmir-bound Amarnath pilgrims was stopped at Batote and Patnitop before it could reach Ramban.
“They have been kept in community halls at Batote and Patnitop,” said Meena. The trouble started last night following allegations of desecration of a holy book in the Dharam area, near Gool, around 190 km north of Jammu, allegedly by some BSF personnel-a charge outrightly denied by the BSF. BSF Jammu Frontier IG Rajeev Krishna said the BSF camp of 76 Battalion having a weaponry store was attacked by a violent mob around 6.30 am and then around 9.30 am.
“We are not a trigger-happy force and had exercised maximum restraint, but the mob, which might had some anti-social elements in it, attacked the BSF camp having ammunition depot and our personnel acted in self-defense,” he said. It all started on the evening of July 17 when a patrol party of 76 Battalion intercepted a person around 9.45 am and enquired about his identity (as it was part of their duty), he said.
“That person started arguing and didn’t take the queries in the right spirit. In the meantime, 15 to 20 persons assembled at that place and the BSF party came back to its post. That person later leveled a false allegation of desecrating a holy book,” he said. “Soon a crowd of around 400-500 persons gathered and started hurling stones at the BSF post. We informed the police that came there and dispersed the crowd.
Around 6.30 am today, a mob started building up again and tried to force entry into the Company Operating Base (COB) Dharam campus while hurling stones. The police tried to disperse the mob and fired three-four rounds. In the melee, our constable Ram Hari suffered bullet injury in the stomach. It was learnt that two civilians also suffered bullet injuries. All the injured were evacuated to a nearest hospital in the government vehicles.
Again around 9.30 am, a mob of 700 to 800 men attacked the BSF post with stones. The police and BSF men had to fire in self-defense,” he said. The Union Home Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the firing incident on Thursday. “(If it is found) that there was any use of excessive force or irresponsible action, it shall be dealt with strictly,” said Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.