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Army Called Out After Communal Riots in Kashmir

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KASHMIR/JAMMU, August 9, 2013 (The Hindu): Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew and called out the Army as two persons died and about 80 others sustained injuries in the worst communal riots to shake Jammu and Kashmir at Kishtwar on Friday.

Official sources said people from the peripheral villages of Bandirna, Hullar and Kuleed were heading for the spacious Chowgan Grounds to join congregational Eid-ul-Fitr prayers around 10 a.m., when a section of local Hindus objected to their pro-azadi slogans [call for separating Kashmir from India]. What began as an altercation culminated in a major clash in which people from both sides resorted to intense stone pelting.

Even as over 10,000 people performed Eid prayers, some miscreants ransacked commercial properties and set shops and vehicles on fire. The district headquarters turned into a battlefield with even government-controlled Village Defence Committee (VDC) members and Special Police Officers joining the violence, in some cases even using firearms.

IGP (Jammu) Rajesh Kumar told The Hindu from Kishtwar that the four-hour-long riots left two persons of the both communities dead and 23 civilians injured. However, independent sources claimed that around 80 persons, including 40 police and CRPF personnel, sustained injuries.

One petrol tanker, one police bunker, a number of buses and cars were among the 60 vehicles destroyed in fire. As many as 70 shops, one hotel and one residential house were also destroyed in the arson as the police and the civil administration failed to control the situation.

Officials called out the Army even as the Deputy Commissioner imposed curfew. After a “flag march” show of force by the Army, the situation was reportedly under control.

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