Srinagar: Kashmir Valley Wednesday remained on the edge as two more killings overnight intensified the raging protests even as curfew and protest shutdown continued putting the business of life on a standstill for the 26th consecutive day. With the fresh killings the death toll in the last 26 days of unrest has climbed to 56.
On Wednesday curfew was extended to more areas of Kashmir Valley after body of a city youth with pellet injuries was found outside a hospital here. Body of Reyaz Ahmad Shah, with a big perforation in the abdomen, was found outside SMHS Hospital, a police official said.
He said initially it was not clear how the youth had been killed but X-ray of the body showed presence of pellets inside it. The death of the youth led to protests in his native Bagiyas and adjoining areas early this morning.
The authorities immediately extended curfew to more areas. The fresh killing added fuel to fire as Valley was already simmering with anger over the death of another protester in police firing the previous night in Pulwama district.
Curfew which remains in force in five police station area of old city for last 26 days, was extended to Batamaloo, Shaheedgunj, Soura, Zadibal, Qamarwari and Bemina areas of the city, a police official said. He said curfew was also reimposed in Khanpora area of Baramulla district, Awanitpora and Pampore in Pulwama district while Anantnag and other major towns of south Kashmir also continued to remain under curfew.
Reports said Shah was a private guard at a JK Bank ATM in Kanikadal area of Srinagar. His family blamed paramilitary soldiers for fatally shooting him.
Initial investigation suggested he died from a pellet wound as he had more than 360 small pellet balls in his body, according to the doctors at SMHS.
Residents and family suspect Shah had been fired upon from a bunker while driving he was riding his scooty.
Protests erupted shortly after his body was brought to his home at Bagyas, Chattabal in old Srinagar.
Chief Medical Officer Srinagar Dr Bashir Ahmed Malik confirmed that the death of Shah occurred due to pellet injuries. “Yes, he was attacked with pellets resulting in his death.” Malik said.
Police first dismissed the allegations and termed it an accident but later issued a statement saying that an FIR has been registered and investigation has been taken up.
Defying the curfew, thousands of men and women later carried his body to martyr's graveyard where hundreds of Kashmiri militants and civilians killed during the last 26 years of turmoil lie buried.
Earlier the government forces fired tear gas in Lethpora after thousands of people offered funeral prayers for a young man, one of the two civilians killed overnight.
The protesters shouted anti-India slogans and denounced the killings of Kashmiri civilians during the recent unrest.
Farooq Ahmad Kuchay was killed when a police guard escorting a government official fired at protesters who tried to stop their official car at Lethpora on srinagar-Jammu highway late on Tuesday.
People according to witnesses reached Lethpora from Ladhoo, Tral, Chandhara, Kakapora, Pulwama, Samboora, Barsoo, Pampore, Awantipora, Hajibal, Banderpora, Hathiwara and other areas to participate in Farooq’s funeral. “Thousands of people offered funeral prayers for Farooq at local Eidgah,” said a local adding that back to back funeral prayers were offered for the slain youth.
In a bid to maintain law and order and getting situation out of control heavy security deployment was made along the Jammu-Srinagar highway. Police had placed a barrier near EDI Sempora to block movement of vehicles towards South Kashmir. Reports said that before Farooq could be laid to rest CRPF started shelling the Mazaar-e-Shuhda (martyrs graveyard), resulting in intense clashes between mourners and forces.
Another young protester, Sohail Ahmad Wani, was critically wounded and later hospitalized in Srinagar.
Reports said that Police and CRPF men intercepted mass public rally in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Wednesday. Local reports said that thousands of people from Kulgam villages were on way to Damhal Hanji Pora for a mass rally.
Unlike past few days, majority of people were on foot walking towards Damhal Hanji Pora. People held mass rallies in South Kashmir parts in which people showed unity in file and ranks and vowed to “take forward the freedom movement”.
According to reports, the rally which comprised of bikes and cars as well was intercepted at Aadijan Laisu village in a brook by police and CRPF personnel resulting in intense clashes. “Scores of injured are lying on the roads. We are unable to shift them to hospitals,” a local said.
An eyewitness said that when armed forces targeted peaceful protesters, scores of bikers abandoned their motorcycles that were later set on fire by armed forces. “Yes, I am witness to it, CRPF personnel set on fires dozens of bikes,” reports from Kulgam said.
The situation in the district was tense while thousands of people from adjoining areas regrouped and staged massive anti-India demonstration.
Reports from South Kashmir said that protesters after setting a trawler on fire damaged a vast patch of highway by using bulldozers.
Reports of protests and clashes also came from Meemandar Shopian while eyewitnesses said that a massive motorbike rally was organized by youth from Kulgam and Shopian that culminated in Vehail Shopian. Youth at Vehail Shopian reportedly clashed with police.
Protests were also witnessed in tourist town of Pahalgam. Here police used tear smoke shells to disperse hundreds of protesters.
Violent clashes broke out between Govt forces and angry protesters in Warpora area of North Kashmir’s Sopore town.
The clashes broke out early Wednesday morning as hundreds of people chanting slogans in favour of “Aazadi” and “Go India Go Back” took to streets.
Day long clashes between forces and protesters in Warpora and other adjoining areas of Sopore resulted in injuries to various persons.
The youth pelted stones on Police Post Warpora in response to police firing tear gas smoke shells and pellets to disperse the protesters.
Three youth were injured and they were treated at a local dispensary. Residents said many families are reluctant to shift their injured wards into sub-district hospital Sopore for fear of police filing cases against them.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people on Wednesday offered Namaz-e-Zuhr at Gulshan Chowk in north Kashmir’s Bandipore District.
After offering prayers, people observed a sit-in for two hours at Gulshan Chowk to protest against recent civilian killings in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, shops, businesses and schools remained closed for the 26th straight day on Wednesday due to a strike called by separatists demanding an end to Indian rule in the region.
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