Protests, clashes rock Kulgam; 3 districts lay claim on body
PULWAMA: Amid spontaneous shutdown and protest demonstrations, thousands of people, including a large number of women, Thursday, turned up for the funeral of slain Lashkar-e-Taiba chief in Kashmir, Abu Qasim in south Kashmirs Kulgam district.
Soon after the news about the death of Abu Qasim spread, thousands of people from Kulgam and other adjoining areas of south Kashmir including as far as Pulwama and Shopian rushed towards Bogam village so that they could have a glimpse of the slain commander and participate in his funeral prayers.
Within no time, Bugam village where Qasims burial was scheduled to take place was choked with people. Qasims body was taken in a procession initially to Bogam Chowk amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Eyewitnesses said that the funeral prayers of Qasim were offered twice: first at Bogam Chowk and then in the ground of Bogam Higher Secondary School. Reports said soon after the funeral, the people of three districts laid claim over the body of slain militant and wanted it to be taken for burial in their respective districts.
However after deliberations, according to reports, Abu Qasim was buried at martyrs graveyard Bogam amid intense anti-India and pro-militant slogans, witnesses said.
According to these reports, a group of militants appeared on the scene and offered a three volley gun salute during the funeral.
Prior to and after the funeral, hundreds of youth at multiple places in Kulgam clashed with government forces. The forces resorted to aerial firing at Khandaypora near encounter site and elsewhere lobbed scores of teargas shells. There was a complete shutdown in the district.
A youth identified as Faizan Khan of Qaimoh Kulgam was critically injured after he was hit by a teargas shell in the head during clashes. He was rushed to hospital in Kulgam where from doctors referred him to SKIMS Srinagar.
A shutdown was also observed in Pulwama district against the killing of two militants earlier this week and also against the death of Qasim. During the shutdown, the youth clashed with government forces at various places.
Eyewitnesses said that hundreds of youth who were part of funeral procession attacked CRPF 18 Battalion camp with stones, prompting government forces to fire several shots in air. Reports said amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans the mourners waved Pakistani flags and clashed with government forces that were deployed in hundreds in and around Kulgam district.
Funeral prayers in absentia for Abu Qasim were held at Kashmir Universitys Hazratbal campus by students, according to reports. Dozens of students amid pro-freedom and pro-militant slogans offered the funeral for the slain commander and staged a protest. The protest ended peacefully.
Meanwhile, police said it has arrested 67 youths for enforcing shutdown in Shopian district against the killing of Abu Qasim and seized five vehicles they used for the purpose.
A senior police official said that soon after the news of Qasims death spread, these youth from Pulwama district boarding sumo vehicles roamed the area and thus, disrupted normal life.
They tried to enforce their unlawful writ by way of pelting stones and raising anti-national slogans and they also tried to close the market forcefully. The police acted swiftly and during the course of action, around 67 boys were arrested and case and investigation has been taken up, the official said.
He said the five vehicles bearing registration numbers JK03D -9516, JK03B -6660, JK03C 2159, JKI3A 6353 and JK13C -5270 were also seized. (GNS)
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