SRINAGAR: Shutdown in the Valley and strict curfew in several localities of Srinagar and Kupwara crippled normal life for the second day in Kashmir on Thursday.
The government also snapped internet services, apparently to restrict news and views on Handwara killings.
The clashes between government forces and protesters erupted in various parts of the Valley. The government forces on Thursday evening fired tear smoke shells on mourners at slain Nayeem Ahmad’s residence.
One mourner, Javed Iqbal Bhat son of Mohammad Maqbool, a resident of Bhat Mohalla, Handwara, was wounded in the shelling and shifted to SMHS Hospital for treatment. The locals alleged that the government forces also ransacked a local mosque.
The entire Valley is on boil in protest against the killing of four civilians, a woman among them, in Handwara. Another protester was killed at Drugmulla village on the following day when police fired teargas shells to disperse a funeral procession.
In Srinagar’s uptown Hyderpora area, protesters threw stones at government forces while in downtown sporadic clashes broke out throughout the day.
Heavy deployments of police and paramilitaries were seen in all the three districts of North Kashmir to curb protests. The roads leading to Kupwara district were blocked with barricades. However, clashes broke out in Kralgund area of Langate.
The Azadi camp had also called for shutdown across the valley. All four districts in south Kashmir remained shut and no incident of clashes was reported.
The police in a statement said that the situation remained largely peaceful “though a few incidents of stone pelting were reported from Handwara and Srinagar”.
“Miscreants pelted stones in Magam Handwara, Zakoora and HMT areas of Srinagar. The deployments exercised maximum restraint and there were no reports of injuries to any civilian although some cops were injured one of them seriously who was referred to Srinagar from Handwara,” police said.
Troops go berserk in Zainakote, say locals
Government forces on Thursday vandalised several industrial units and residential houses at Zainakote following the protests by people against the Handwara killings.
The locals said that that the presence of CRPF camp in the locality was the root cause of all clashes taking place in the area.
Talib and Aijaz, two security guards of a private industrial unit, GR Fabricator, alleged that cops barged into their unit inside the Zainakote Industrial Estate (ZIE) and vandalised the property.
“Peaceful protests were going on in some other area but police barged into our unit and started vandalising the property,” the guards said. They alleged that the cops locked them inside a room.
They said that cops were looking for some “protesters”.
A group of locals including Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Zahid Ahmad Dar and Showkat Ahmad Dar told Kashmir Reader that the government forces broke the window panes of their houses, abused women and beat up several elderly persons.
They alleged that the cops ransacked several houses in Zainul Abideen mohalla, Dar mohalla, and SICOP mohalla. “The police fired tear gas and pepper gas inside our houses. This has made our life hell,” they alleged.
Senior vice-president, Industrial Association Zainakote Nazir Hussain said the presence of CRPF camp is the root cause of the clashes in the area. “It (presence of bunker) also is one of the biggest impediments in the way of industrial development in the area,” he said.
“By provoking youth, CRPF personnel try to project Zainakote as an insecure place. These forces booze, break bottles and throw them inside the sports ground to incite the locals for clashes,” Hussain said demanding immediate removal of the camp from the area.,
He said that most of the industrial units in the area deal with cotton products. “Even a single tear gas shell can be devastating,” he said. ( with inputs from Javid Ali)