No Let Up In Protests, Clashes; Scores Injured

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Youth Run Over By Forces Vehicle During Street Battles, Rampage Alleged In Several Areas 

SRINAGAR: Protests and clashes continued to rock Kashmir for the third day running after the killing of a Baramulla youth in army firing, with heavy tear gas shelling by police and paramilitary forces and furious stone-pelting by angry crowds leaving at least forty persons injured.

Restive and seething since the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru since February 9, the Valley has been brought to the brink again by the death in suspicious circumstances of a Kashmiri student in Hyderabad last weekend and the killing in Baramulla this Tuesday.  

Curfew and restrictions imposed in most of Srinagar and a number of Valley towns have failed to contain the violent upsurge.

Reports several areas, including upper Srinagar, of residents being beaten and homes damaged in violent rampages by government forces.  

Even late in the evening, parts of the old city, and areas as far apart as Eidgah and Bemina, reported heavy and pungent fumes from the newly introduced “pepper-gas” shells wafting into homes from battle zones, and inmates complaining of suffocation and breathing problems.

In the Safa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar, an 86-year-old woman suffering from asthma died today after repeated exposure to pepper gas over the past three days of street battles.

In Baramulla, residents marched in a procession to the home of Tahir Rasool Sofi, who died in army firing two days ago, to pay condolence to his family.

Religious leaders heading the march announced to hold Friday prayers in the town’s old Eidgah tomorrow to demand the return of the body of Muhammad Afzal Guru.

The gathering vowed to continue protests till the body was returned, and demanded forces camps in the area to be shifted out.  

 In Sopore, locals defied curfew to take out a procession, and clashed with the police in several neighbourhoods, fighting heavy tear gas with stones.

Small marches emerged in the frontier town of Kupwara throughout the day, and demonstrations broke out in Trehgam when curfew was relaxed in the afternoon.

In the Lolab area of the same district, a youth identified as Akhtar Hussain Malik, was run over by a forces vehicle during street battles, and had to be rushed to the Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar because of serious injuries.

Six policemen and several civilians too were injured in the violence.

In Langate, villagers took to the streets decrying nocturnal raids and beatings by the army.

A fifteen-year-old boy was hit in the face by a tear gas shell in the Palhalan area of Pattan in the Baramulla district, and had to be hospitalized.

The Pattan township itself too was rocked by protests which continued late into the evening.

Groups of youth targeted vehicles on the Srinagar-Jammu highway near the Chandhar town of Pampore, but traffic was restored by police and troop reinforcements rushed in by authorities.

Reports of clashes poured in from Pulwama and Shopian towns of South Kashmir as well. 

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