Protests, Clashes Despite Clampdown; 60 Injured

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Nauhatta Protests Rampage, Upper Srinagar Flare’s Up

SRINAGAR: Nearly sixty persons, including many forces personnel, were injured in the Valley on Wednesday in furious bursts of violence despite curfew imposed in most of the state’s summer capital and a number of outlying towns to contain street anger over yesterday’s killing in Baramulla.

The clampdown also foiled marches announced by the newly-formed Muttahida Majlis-e-Mashawarat (MMM) to the home towns of Muhammad Maqboool Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru in the Kupwara and Baramulla districts.

In view of the escalating situation, authorities suspended vehicular traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway from Qazigund downwards as a precautionary measure, and the Valley’s sole railway line remained closed for the fourth day running, though internet and mobile phone services were restored by afternoon.

 In Srinagar alone, three police officers and a number of other personnel were among those injured in street battles, even as over a score of private and government vehicles, including two from the state-run Radio Kashmir, were damaged in stone-pelting.  

A number of upper city areas flared up with protests and stone-pelting and groups of youth attacked passing vehicles, causing damage to several.   

Seven police precincts in the Old City, and several towns like Sopore, Kupwara, Bandipur, Trehgam, Pulmama and Tral had been placed under curfew today following renewed protests and violence over the death of a youth in army firing in North Kashmir’s Baramulla yesterday.

Though under curfew since yesterday evening after the killing of Tahir Rasool Sofi, the northern township witnessed violent protests in many areas today.

Clashes breaking out in the town’s old quarters left over ten persons injured as protestors pelted stones and the forces retaliated with cane charges and pungent tear gas.

A fifteen-year-old boy, identified as Zakir Ahmad Lone was admitted to hospital in a serious condition due to injuries suffered when police and paramilitary men opened fire with pellet guns.

A large procession from the town’s Tauheed Gunj locality held protests for several hours with azadi and Islamic slogans, demanding punishment to army personnel involved in Sofi’s killing.

The sister township of Sopore witnessed a virtual siege in several areas including  Doabgah, the native village of Muhammad Afzal Guru, where an MMM march was to culminate today.

Demonstrations were held different parts of the town to demand the return of Guru’s body from the Tihar Jail where he was executed on February 9.

Tension prevailed in the frontier district of Kupwara as well where the Kupwara town, Trehgam, Kralpora Vilgam, and Kulingam had been placed under curfew.

The situation took a serious turn in Trehgam – hometown of the executed JKLF founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat – shortly before noon when a large number of residents took to the streets.

Police and paramilitary deployments had to take shelter in the local government-run hospital in escape heavy stone-pelting from the crowds, reports said.

At least three CRPF personnel and three policemen were injured apart from half- a-dozen protestors in ensuing clashes as the forces rebounded to quell the street violence with tear gas shelling.

Three forces personnel and number of civilians were injured clashes in the districts Hari area as well where residents alleged that paramilitary men had barged into homes and ransacked household goods besides assaulting inmates.

In the state’s summer capital, furious clashes broke out in many areas both inside and outside the curfew zone.

Three station house officers (SHOs) and number of  their subordinates were injured in separate clashes which also left several protestors injured.

In curfew-bound Nauhatta, people took to the streets in large numbers protesting forces’ rampage in their localities.

Incidents of stone-pelting were also reported from the southern townships of Pulwama Anantnag and Shopian. 

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