Day 103 : Semblance Of Normalcy Even As Hartal Reigns 

Srinagar: While shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk and adjoining areas, a good rush of people and privately owned vehicles was seen on the streets on Wednesday.

Many such outlets were open in civil lines areas of Sanat Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh and Bishembar Nagar and on the outskirts of the city, a police official said.

He said a large number of roadside vendors set up their stalls on the TRC crossing-Batamaloo axis passing through Lal Chowk, while there was increased movement of private vehicles and auto-rickshaws in the city.

"No curfew or restrictions have been imposed anywhere on Wednesday," a senior police official said here."Adequate deployment of security forces has been made to maintain law and order across the valley."

However, shops and business establishments were shut in most of the other district headquarters of the valley. They open only during the periodic relaxation announced by the separatists.

Separatists called protest shutdown, however, paralysed life for the  103rd consecutive day in Kashmir Valley, however, authorities on Wednesday did not impose any curfew or restrictions anywhere.

Clashes erupted at Soibugh village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district after government forces resorted to aerial firing to stop to an ongoing pro-freedom rally.

Reports and witnesses said that the rally – attended buy over a thousand people – at Soibugh chowk was nearing its end when forces raided the area.

 “They were firing in air and used teargas shells to thwart the rally,” said a witness. “This triggered clashes.”

Resistance leadership had called for a march to Soibugh yesterday.

To prevent the rally, all the entry points of the village were sealed by government forces.

However, rally went ahead with people from the village managing to reach the venue.

Residents of Warpora area of North Kashmir’s Sopore town on Wednesday said that men in uniform on Tuesday night raided the village of and resorted to ransacking the houses. The locals said that the forces came around 1:30 AM and ransacked private property before arresting an 18-year-old youth. The detained youth was identified as Masraf Majeed. He was arrested while he lay sleep in his room.

“Soon after the raid, people came out from their houses protesting against the raids and highhandedness of forces,” local said. “Forces fired tear smoke shells indiscriminately.”

The locals said one tear gas shell landed inside home of a lady who had given birth to a baby a few days ago. A police official feigned ignorance about the incident.

Agitated protesters smashed windowpanes of scores of private vehicles at Hajin Sonawari area of Bandipora district when government forces arrested a butcher whom locals identified as Ghulam Ahmed Dar. “Earlier Batagund village was cordoned off by the forces and later on they picked up Dar from Gulshan Abad area. The detention of butcher sparked violent protest while agitated youth resorted to massive stone-pelting damaging window-panes of scores of private vehicles,” said an eyewitness.

Reports from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district said that government forces in a bid to foil Pulwama to Newa march, cordoned off the entire Newa area while agitated youth pelted stones on them resulting in the clashes.

CRPF and Police responded by firing tear-smoke shells and pellets on the protesters resulting in the injuries of 4 persons. One of the youth suffered pellet injuries in the eyes and he was shifted to Pulwama hospital.

Similar protests were held in Arihal area of Pulwama district on Wednesday. Locals alleged during a night raid in the area, government forces damaged houses and other properties while to counter the action of the forces people took to roads in the middle of the night and chanted pro-freedom slogans.

Forces used tear-gas canisters to disperse the protesters. Reports said that during morning hours, a large number of people again hit to roads and organized a massive anti-India protest. Forces rushed to the village and used pellets and tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters. Witnesses and reports said that 7 people were injured in the clashes.

Over 90 people, majority of them youths, have been killed and over 14,000 injured in the ongoing unrest in Kashmir since July 9, a day after the killing of top militant Burhan Wani in a clash with security forces

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