South Flares Up As Valley Resumes Business After 9 Days

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SRINAGAR: Even as everyday business resumed elsewhere in the Valley on Monday after over a week of curfew and extended hartal, the South Kashmir town of Pulwama was put under restrictions again following a furious burst of violence.

At least four paramilitary troopers were injured in a stone-pelting attack on CRPF vehicles as groups of townsfolk took to the streets over the hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru in Delhi ten days ago, even as clashes between protestors and government forces left ten more persons injured.

Guru’s hometown of Sopore remained calm except for stray incidents of stone-pelting, and a large number of people headrd for his house in Doabgah to pay condolence.

In Pulwama, police and paramilitary personnel enforced restrictions again to quell street violence flaring up in several areas during protests.  

Trouble started at around nine this morning when markets began to open after nine days of closure.

Reports said groups of youth protesting against Guru’s hanging attacked the local police station located near the Maran Chowk with a barrage of stones.

Though the violent mob was dispersed with cane charges and tear gas, it regrouped shortly afterwards, keeping up protests and stone-pelting, reports said.

As shops closed down again due to the violence, authorities called up police and paramilitary reinforcements.

The crowds attacked CRPF vehicles passing through Maran Chowk with stones, damaging several and leaving four paramilitary personnel injured.

Locals took to the streets in the Pulwama main square, Pinglana, and Neevah and other places also over reports of aerial firing, and beating up of civilians in police action at Maran Chowk.

Street-battles erupted in the areas as protestors hurled rocks and forces retaliated with cane-charges and heavy tear-gas shelling.

Rushing in more reinforcements, authorities clamped undeclared curfew in the trouble- hit areas to bring the situation under control.

Local alleged that forces personnel beat up civilians, and did not even spare patients heading for hospital.    

Elsewhere, apart from the Kulgam town, the situation was reported to have remained peaceful.

Markets opened in Srinagar and outlying district, government offices functioned again, banks re-opened for business, and streets remained busy with traffic, pedestrians and shoppers.

Life had come to a standstill ten days ago on Saturday when the Kashmir Valley woke up to curfew and the news that Muhammad Afzal Guru, on death row in the parliament attack case, had been hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Though curfew was removed from all parts of the valley last Saturday, a parallel separatist strike had been extended by Syed Ali Shah Geelani till yesterday.    

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