Srinagar: A strict curfew and protest shutdown called by the joint resistance leadership crippled life in Kashmir on the 42nd straight day on Friday.
At least 70, people including two cops have died in the unrest that began on the day charismatic Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with government forces on July 08. The resistance leadership had asked people to march towards Aripanthan village in Budgam district where four civilian were killed in unprovoked firing by the paramilitary forces on August 15. Top separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are under house arrest while Yasin Malik is lodged in central jail.
Though authorities barred separatist leaders from proceeding towards Aripanthan village, yet according to reports thousands of people assembled in the village and organized a massive protest rally. “Authorities had sealed all the road leading towards the village, but people from hundreds of areas after taking alternate routes managed to reach there. The participants were addressed by different leaders,” an eyewitness said.
A sit-in was held after Friday prayers in Nawa Kadal area of old Srinagar. Earlier, a protest rally was taken out from Masjid Sharief Khankah-i-Sokhta to Lukhriyar Nawa Kadal. The rally culminated at the Ansari Chowk where a sit-in was staged, which was led by Hurriyat (M) leader Masroor Ansari. The protestors chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Reports said that pro-freedom protests were held at Dargah Hazratbal after congregational Friday prayers. The protests were staged at the end of the prayers in which pro-freedom slogans were raised.
Police arrested Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani and Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as they defied detention orders and started marching to Aripanthan, Budgam. Hurriyat sources said that Geelani came out of his residence in Hyderpora however police already deployed there arrested him. He was taken to Humhama police chowki, they said.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was also detained after he tried to march towards Aripanthan village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, sources said adding Mirwaiz was shifted to police station Nigeen.
According to the eyewitnesses, a pro-freedom rally was organised shortly after the culmination of Friday congregational prayers in Chanapora area of Kashmir capital Srinagar. Hundreds of people assembled at a park in Doodh Ganga Colony, Old Chanapora. A large number of women also participated in the rally. The protesters according to eyewitnesses shouted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, besides pro-Burhan slogans. Senior Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Advocate Bashir Ahmad Bhat addressed the rally.
Reports from Dalgate area of Srinagar city said that as soon as Friday congregational prayers ended, people including women and children came out on rods in Buchwara side of Dalgate. Amid pro-freedom slogans holding placards, the protestors raised pro-freedom, pro-Burhan Wani and anti-India slogans.
Reports from North Kashmir’s Bandipora district said that massive clashes erupted on Friday after the government forces tried to break up a pro-freedom rally. Police and paramilitary forces intercepted the rally near Nowpora Chowk and fired several tear smoke shells to disperse the demonstrators. This triggered massive clashes, in which around a dozen women sustained injuries. Witnesses said that the inhabitants of Pazalpora, Mantrigam and Darmahama areas of district carried out a protest rally and marched towards Sonerwani where an office of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is located. The protestors, according to witnesses, tried to attack the BRO office but they were intercepted by Army's 14 RR unit camped at Sonerwani, which led to clashes. Army fired dozens of tear smoke, sound shells and pepper gas to disperse the protestors. Reports said that two youth were injured during the clashes, which were going on when the last reports came in.
A complete shutdown was observed in border town Uri of north Kashmir Baramulla district against the killing spree in the valley by the government forces. Reports said that all the shops, business establishments, educational institutions were closed and traffic was off the roads. More than 60 innocent people have killed in the valley unrest so far. What government will get by killing the innocent’s,” said a member of the Traders Federation Uri.
“We are going to lodge a strong protest in near future against the unabated civilian killings in the valley,” he said adding “The common man in Kashmir has been made hostage by the Indian security forces for the last 42 days, this is the worst kind of human rights violation, we have ever seen”
More than a dozen people were injured after the government forces fired pellets and used tear-gas shells into a demonstration in north Kashmir's Palhallan area on Friday. Eyewitnesses said that a peaceful protest was organized in the area, which was headed by elders and senior citizens. “We were marching peacefully towards the highway. Forces fired pellets and teargas shells without any provocation,” said a protester. He said over a dozen persons received pellet injuries. They have been shifted to nearby health centres for treatment, he said.
Reports said that at least three persons were injured when forces fired pellets to disperse protestors in North Kashmir’s Trehgam area of Kupwara district. Police sources said that three persons were injured and later shifted to Kupwara hospital.
Pro-freedom march was carried out in North Kashmir’s Sopore town. Locals alleged that forces stationed in the Chowk, used force and fired teargas smoke shells towards the peaceful protesters. Two women among and several protestors were injured during the clashes which erupted thereafter.
The injured were shifted to local hospital. During clashes in Palhalan area of North Kashmir an ASI Rakesh Kumar Sharma of 176 Battalion,,PSO of SSP Baramulla including four cops were injured.
Meanwhile government did not allow major Masjids in Srinagar, Islamabad, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Baramulla and other district headquarters on Friday.
Clashes erupted in Koimouh and Qazigund areas after Friday prayers while government forces used tear-smoke shells to disperse the pro-freedom protesters. Reports said that the effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was put on fire by the protesters in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
For the sixth consecutive Friday mandatory congregational Friday prayers were not allowed in historic Jamia Masjid Srinagar.
The last Friday when Friday prayers were offered in Jamia Masjid was when Hizb militant commander Burhan Wani was killed by forces on 8, July last month.
A statement issued to CNS by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir claimed that 21 incidents of stone pelting were reported after Friday prayers from Sopore, Shopian, Kulgam, Baramulla, Handwara, Bandipora and Pulwama.
The Statement said that restrictions under section 144/CrPC remained in force in Kashmir valley on Friday.
“Curfew was imposed in Srinagar, Baramulla, Kaloosa in Bandipora and in the towns of Anantnag, Shopian and Pampore,” the statement said. The statement further said that last evening, unknown militants hurled a grenade towards the residential house of ex-MLA Shopian, Sheikh Mohammad Rafi at village Kachdoora, Shopian which exploded without causing any damage. “A case stands registered in Police Station Shopian and investigation taken up,” it said. (CNS)
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.