- By Shabir Ibn Yusuf, Greater Kashmir
Srinagar, Mar 6: At least 50 persons including 12 security personnel were injured in clashes which erupted during protest demonstrations at several places in the valley against the killing of a youth by Army in Baramulla while parts of Kashmir were put under curfew on Wednesday. Though no separatist outfit had given any shutdown call, people observed a spontaneous strike to protest against the killing.
Defying curfew, hundreds of people of Nowhatta and its adjoining areas took to streets and clashed with the forces. To thwart protests, government imposed curfew Tuesday night in 10 police station areas of Srinagar including Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Saraf Kadal, Maharajgunj, Zadibal, Maisuma and Kral Khod.
Reports said that police and CRPF stopped ambulances carrying patients near Aali Kadal. The residents came out and held a protest demonstration against the security personnel. Reports said that police and CRPF barged into residential houses in the area and beat up the people, ransacked houses, damaged windowpanes and vehicles.
Infuriated over the forces’ action, reports said that residents of Nowhatta and its adjoining areas appealed the people to come out and held protests demonstrations against the forces.
Reports said soon after announcement, hundreds of people took to streets and held strong protests demonstration against police and CRPF. They assembled in Nowhatta chowk. Large contingents of forces burst tear smoke shells and cane charged the protestors resulting in injuries to two dozen protestors.
Reports from the area further said that after dispersing the protestors, police and CRPF again entered into the residential house and ransacked them.
Reports of protests were also received from Khanyar, Lal Bazar, Kanitar, Hawal, Karan Nagar, Zakura, Chanapora and Barzulla.
Reports said that groups of youth in these areas took to streets and held strong protests against the killing of Baramulla youth.
Pitched battles between youth and forces were witnessed in Chanapora, Khanyar, Hawal and Zakura.
Defying curfew, protesters took to streets at Chattabal and resorted to stone pelting around noon. Reinforcements rushed on the spot enabled the forces to quell the protests, two youth hailing from Chana Mohalla Chattabal were arrested by police.
To thwart any protest demonstration, heavy contingents of police and paramilitary CRPF were deployed in the curfew bound areas. The forces had laid razor wire and erected barricades to stop movement of people and traffic. Armored vehicles were also seen at road junctions. Joint parties of police and CRPF were seen patrolling the streets of curfew-bound areas.
Though no curfew or restrictions were imposed in civil lines, but the authorities made deployment of additional police and CRPF to thwart any attempt of protest demonstrations. The forces were seen patrolling the streets in civil lines areas also.
Sources said that two Police officials were injured in clashes between protesters and forces in Padshahi Bagh of Srinagar. A Deputy Superintendent of Police and Station House Officer were shifted to SMHS. They were discharged after treatment.
Entire Srinagar district observed a complete strike against the killing of the youth. Shops, banks, other business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads. The government and private offices were closed.
Amid complete strike, various areas of central district of Budgam witnessed protests at several places. Reports said that people took to streets in Budgam town, Chrar-i-Sharief and held peaceful protests against the killing of the Baramulla youth by Army. Amid a complete shutdown, minor incidents of stone pelting were reported from Wussan in Kangan area, however no one was injured.
Thin movement of vehicles was witnessed on Ganderbal roads and authorities put heavy deployment of forces in almost all places to thwart any protest demonstration against the killing.
Amid a complete shutdown in north Kashmir areas of Kupwara, Baramulla, Handwara and Bandipora, people took to streets and clashed with forces.
Reports of clashes were reported from Trehgam, Langate and several places of Bandipora.
Reports said that violent clashes erupted in Trehgam and 15 people including a dozen forces personnel were injured.
Reports said that forces intercepted a protest demonstration in Trehgam township and burst tear smoke shells to disperse them. Reports said that during the clashes, the protestors entered sub-district hospital Trehgam and chased a contingent of 12 force personnel.
Reports said that the reinforcement teams of CRPF and Army reached the spot who used aerial firing and tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters.
Doctors at the hospital confirmed that 15 people were injured and several had fractures in their legs.
However, Superintendent of Police (SP) Kupwara Muhammad Irshad termed it a minor incident. “Situation is normal,” he said.
The authorities put Trehgam out bounds for the people as the MMM had called for Trehgam chalo today. Reports said that forces erected barricades at different roads leading to Trehgam to stop the movement of people. Protests were also reported from Hiri and Batergam areas of Kupwara.
Protests erupted in at least three places in Sopore Tehsil of Baramulla district. Reports said that in the afternoon protests broke out in main Sopore town, Shallpora and Chankan areas. However no one was injured.
Five persons including four force personnel sustained injuries during clashes that broke out in various localities in North Kashmir’s Bandipora District amid curfew-like restrictions.
Reports said that early Wednesday morning authorities imposed undeclared curfew in main town Bandipora and barred public movement. Clashes broke out in Ajar area when a group of youth hurled stones towards a CRPF camp and forces burst tears smoke shells. Heavy clashes broke out in Papachan area of Bandipora when youth engaged Police and CRPF in clashes. Clashes also erupted in Kaloosa after scores of youths staged protests near petrol pump Kaloosa.
Eyewitnesses told Greater Kashmir that scores of youth raising pro-freedom slogans pelted stones on paramilitary CRPF men and policemen deployed in strength in Papchan.
The police burst teargas canisters and resorted to aerial firing. However protesters offered stiff resistance leading to severe clashes. The ding -dong clashes between police and protesters continued till late evening in which two youths sustained minor injuries. They were identified as Burhan and Mudasir Ahmed. One policeman and three CRPF personnel sustained injuries during the clashes, eyewitness told Greater Kashmir.
Clashes were reported from Hajin area of Bandipora where youths stoned police vehicles which continued for hours, witnesses said.
Restrictions were imposed in Naidkhai, Sumbal, Saderkot, Nesbal, Tragam and Shadipora areas of Bandipora.
Residents from different localities of Bandipora told Greater Kashmir that window panes and doors of most houses located on the roadsides of the town were damaged by the CRPF. “They don’t even allow peeping out of the window. Even women and children are beaten. During late hours the CRPF personnel resort to stone pelting to damage windowpanes,” said Ali Muhammad of Ward No. 2.
Complaints were received from several localities of Ward 4 and 6 where people complained that CRPF barged into their houses late evening, broke window panes and beat up inmates.
“In Nowpora more than a dozen houses were damaged by CRPF by resorting to stone pelting. Such brutal acts by the paramilitary forces and police forces people to go for nocturnal protests,” said Saeed Ahmed.
People from civil line areas like Ajar, Kaloosa, Naz Colony, Sheikh Mohalla, Nag Mohalla, Ahengar Mohalla, Sheikh Mohalla, Bhag and Nowpora also complained of harassment by CRPF and police.
Apart from damaging the property, the CRPF personnel were using abusive language against women, said Mushtaq Ahmed of Nowpora.
In many localities residents have covered the windows with blankets, wooden planks as CRPF would throw stones insides houses.
Defying curfew, hundreds of youth in Baramulla took to streets and held strong protests against Army for killing Tahir Rasool Sofi.
The protesting youths, amid pro-freedom slogans, marched throughout the old town and demanded immediate action against the soldiers involved into the killing.
Clashes were reported throughout the day at Khanpora Bridge Baramulla between the protesters and police. Police burst scores of tear smoke shells to disperse the protesting youths.
The authorities sealed all the four bridges connecting old town with the civil line area.
The Srinagar – Baramulla highway was virtually turned into a battleground on Wednesday with police and CRPF men finding it tough to keep the 50-kilometer route open for traffic movement.
As Baramulla and Sopore towns were put under intense curfew, the highway connecting the summer capital with both the volatile towns was strewn with stones and bricks and shards of broken glass. From north Kashmir’s Sangrama area to Singhpora Pattan, the scene was replica of 2010 unrest – that year the protesters had virtually taken over the highway.
At Sangrama, cops could be seen entering into narrows alleys to chase away the protesters.
Same was the scene at Tapper Payeen and Singhpora Pattan at around 4: 30 pm.
Curfew was clamped in Pulwama and Kulgam districts while, amid complete shutdown, protests erupted in many areas of South Kashmir.
Reports said that following the violent clashes on Tuesday and the killing of a youth by Army in Baramulla, the authorities enforced strict curfew in Pulwama and Kakapora towns in Pulwama district. “Police and paramilitary forces wearing riot gears and armed with sophisticated weapons were seen manning the streets of both the towns,” witnesses said.
People of Murran and Chatipora alleged that the paramilitary forces barged into several houses, ransacked the household goods, smashed the window panes and beat up the inmates.
In Kakapora, strict curfew was enforced following violent clashes on Tuesday evening. The protesters also damaged the railway track.
“The government forces barged into several houses in Kakapora Tuesday late evening and beat up the inmates and smashed the window panes of houses and vehicles,” the locals alleged.
They said that later people came out of the houses and staged protests against the forces’ accesses. “The protesters later clashed with police and CRPF men by pelting stones who retaliated by resorting to baton charge and tear gas shelling,” eye witnesses said. They said that one person was injured after being hit by a tear gas shell while several police and CRPF men also sustained injuries.
“The angry protesters also damaged the railway track,” they added.
Reports of protests and clashes were today reported from Samboora area of the district. Youth fought pitched battles with government forces who retailed by tear gas shelling.
According to the residents of Pulwama and adjoining villages, the paramilitary CRPF personnel have “let loose a reign of terror in the area as they barge into the houses in the evening and ransack whatever comes their way.”
“This is reminiscent of what the CRPF personnel used to do during 2010 summer agitation resulting in spiraling of violence and subsequent killings at that time,” an aggrieved resident complained.
Residents of Tahab village of the district alleged the CRPF men went berserk and ransacked their houses on Tuesday evening. “The paramilitary forces of a local CRPF camp without any provocation and ransacked the house of a retired teacher and also damaged the Maruti vehicle bearing registration no. JK13B-4449 parked in the premises of the house,” a local resident said.
Reports of complete shutdown were reported from Tral, Rajpora, Awantipora and Pampore areas of the district.
In Shopian district, clashes were reported from Gagran village. “Youth took to streets and organized pro-freedom protests, the government forces retaliated by resorting to baton charge and lobbing tear gas shells,” witnesses said.
Curfew was also enforced in Kulgam town. Police and paramilitary forces were deployed in strength in the streets and the movement of people was curtailed. “The government forces did not allow us to venture out of our houses,” locals said.
However, reports of protest demonstration against the killing of youth in Baramulla were reported in Manzgam, Khudwani and Qaimoh.
In Islamabad town, though there was no curfew but police and paramilitary forces were deployed in strength to foil any attempts of protests. Sporadic incidents of stone pelting were reported from several areas. Violent clashes were also reported from Bijbehara, Sangam, Mattan and Seer areas of the district.
INTERNET SERVICES RESTORED
Meanwhile, mobile internet services were restored in the Kashmir Valley Wednesday evening after remaining suspended for more than 24 hours on the directions of State Government. The Internet services were suspended last evening in the wake of killing of a youth by Army.
Following the killing, Jammu and Kashmir Government passed on instructions to all telecom operators – BSNL, Airtel, Aircel, Reliance, Vodafone, and Idea- to suspend their mobile Internet services. The move caused inconvenience to lakhs of subscribers across the Valley.
This is for the second time last month that Internet services have been suspended in Kashmir province without prior intimation to subscribers. Earlier the services remained suspended for a week starting February 9, the day when Muhammad Afzal Guru was hanged in a secret manner in Tihar Jail.
(WITH KHALID GUL/ SUHAIL AJMAL/ SHAHID RAFIQ/ SHEIKH NAZIR/ SHOWKATDAR/ ALTAF BABA)