Valley Battened Down With Curfew For 2nd Day

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SRINAGAR: Even as the Kashmir Valley remained under a strict curfew for the second day after the killing of a Saidpora youth, over a score of persons, half of them police and paramilitary men, were injured in clashes erupting in some places in the north and south of the region on Friday.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Mashawarat (MMM), stitched together by separatist groups to spearhead a campaign for the return of Muhammad Afzal Guru’s body, had called for protest demonstrations after Friday prayers to voice the demand.

Because of the tough clampdown, weekly congregational prayers could not be offered at several major mosques across the valley, including the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, though namaz was held at venues in the interiors.

Police and paramilitary troopers had been moved into streets and lanes in Kashmir’s summer capital early in the morning, prohibiting public movement with barriers and blockades on key crossings.

Stray clashes broke out in the Galwanpora and Rawalpora areas of the upper city, but no casualties were reported.

Curfew paralysed life in outlying towns as well with hundreds of thousands of people confined indoors.

Areas not brought formally under curfew witnessed strict restrictions on pedestrian and vehicular movement.

Not under declared curfew but sealed off from the outside, the northern town of Handwara saw a flare-up in the afternoon when groups of youth took to the streets in Langate after Friday prayers.

Angry crowds reportedly threw stones at the police and paramilitary deployments who retaliated with tear gas shelling and aerial firing, leading to clashes.

Authorities also called up an army detachment to bring the situation under control.

A number of persons from both sides, including the station house officer of the local precinct and several of his subordinates, were injured in the street battles.

Clashes between protestors and government forces were also reported from the Chogul area of the town.

In the Hajan area of the Bandipur district, a large procession demand the return of Muhammad Afzal Guru’s mortal remains emerged after Friday prayers but was blocked by a heavy contingent of police and paramilitary men.

Clashes broke out soon afterwards, leaving several persons, including policemen, injured in brick-batting and retaliatory tear gas shelling.

Street battles were reported from the Naid Khai area as well.

Protests were also held at a number of other places in the district after Friday prayers, but there were no reports of any untoward incidents.

Strict curfew remained in force in the northern township of Sopore which remained largely calm barring stray clashes in the Arampora locality after Friday prayers.

The sister township of Baramulla too remained sewn up with curfew. Police and paramilitary forces had barricaded the town’s four major bridges

Mild skirmishes were reported from some areas.

Protests were held at some places in the central Gandarbal district as well, where the situation took an ugly turn in the Mala Shahi Bagh area where a group pounced on an assistant sub-inspector of police who chasing demonstrators along with his men.

Several local youth had earlier been picked up by the forces during clashes.

According to reports, the police officer was dragged into the village and severely beaten up.

He was rescued by a police team led by the station house officer (SHO) Gandarbal and shifted to hospital.

Additional police and paramilitary forces were moved into the area to bring the situation under control.

Protestors clashed with the forces in the nearby township of Kangan also.

Curfew was strictly enforced in the southern towns of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Bijbehara, Qaimoh Mattan and other places, and there were no reports of any untoward incident.

But severe clashes broke out in Shopian where groups of youth massed in the streets after Friday prayers.

Police and paramilitary forces resorted to heavy tear gassing to break up brick-batting crowds, the clashes leaving around six persons, including policemen injured.

A building of the J and K Bank came under a severe stone-pelting attack in the Tral town when protestors, who had taken to the streets after Friday prayers, suspected being video-graphed from its upper floor.

A number of windowpanes of the building were smashed in the attack. 

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