SRINAGAR: Authorities Monday foiled Islamabad Challo march, called by joint forum of two Hurriyat factions and the JKLF by imposing a strict curfew and sealing of all the entry points leading towards South Kashmir.
However, groups of people defying curfew and restrictions tried to march towards Anantnag from different hamlets of the district.
Reports received by the Kashmir Observer from different areas of the South said that dozens of protesters sustained injuries when armed police resorted to baton charge and fired tear smoke shells to stop the marchers from heading to Anantnag town.
Eyewitnesses said people from Tral, Bijbehara and Duchnipora villages- Srigufwara, Nanil, Kanilwan, Aang, Matipora amid pro-freedom slogans marched towards Anantnag via link routes. However, they were stopped by forces near Anchidora.
Police and paramilitary CRPF men lobbed numerous tear gas shells, fired pellets and thrashed the protesters injuring dozens, witnesses said.
They alleged that forces did not allow the injured to be ferried to district hospital and later they were treated at a local dispensary.
A police official when contacted during the day said that massive stone-pelting was going on in the town. Some Photojournalists from the town alleged that Jammu Kashmir Police personnel, not only harassed them but instigated CRPF men to target them. I was abused and thrashed, said a Photojournalist.
Eyewitnesses said that several people sustained injuries in Acahbal area as armed forces used force on the protesters who were marching towards the town.
People alleged that paramilitary CRPF men went berserk after they came under stone attack in the area and beat up the residents inside their homes, including women and children. Reports of protests were also received from Jablipora-Bijbehra; Kaimoh, Khudwani and Kulgam.
Stone pelting incidents were also reported from Shaher-e-Khas of Srinagar city where clashes erupted between youth and forces on Monday afternoon.
Reports said that scores of youth assembled and shouted pro-freedom slogans. The forces, however, swung into action to disperse the protesting youth who in return pelted stones on the forces deployed at Shamaswari Khanqah-e-Maula here. Another group of youth clashed with Paramilitary CRPF stationed at Hari Parbat Exchange.
Pertinently separatist leadership had asked people to march towards south Kashmirs Anantnag district and participate in a rally to be held at Lal Chowk there after the Zuhar (afternoon) prayers to express solidarity with people there and pay tributes to the recent martyrs.
Police said restrictions were in place in Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts in the south while restrictions also continued in parts of Srinagar, Kupwara, Sopore and Baramulla.
He added that all but 800 employees have been identified who resorted to stone-pelting from past two weeks. Strict action will be initiated against them, he added.
The restrictions were less severe in uptown localities but most roads, especially those leading to Srinagar-Islamabad highway, were blocked by barricades and razor wires.
Several crossings including at Dalgate, Lal Chowk, Sonwar and Panthachowk by- pass and at a number of points along the highway were blocked by CRPF by stationing mobile bunkers on roads.
To foil the march, additional contingents of police and paramilitary personnel were deployed as all the entry and exit points of the town were sealed. Police had also put concertina wires at crossing points at several places in the town. The CRPF and police were deployed in the lanes and by lanes of the town.
Strict restrictions were also put in place in the adjoining areas of Mattan, Bijbehara, Sangam, Dooru and Achabal. Though there were reports of sporadic clashes between the protesters and the police from these areas.
Meanwhile a police hand out said that the situation throughout the Kashmir valley remained peaceful and under control on Monday. There was no curfew in most of the towns/areas of Kashmir valley although curfew remained imposed in twelve Police Stations of Srinagar and towns of Awantipora, Kulgam, Baramulla, Pattan and Anantnag.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.