Another critically wounded; official had jumped a police naka before running into protesters
SRINAGAR: The personal security officer of Ramban additional deputy commissioner Babu Ram opened fire on a crowd of protesters and shot dead one man and injured another critically at Lethpora in Awantipora district on Tuesday evening.
Both the security guard and the ADC were taken into custody by the police after the incident, Superintendent of Police Awantipora Shridhar Patil said.
Farooq Ahmad Kuchay, son of Ghulam Nabi Kuchay, died on the spot from the bullet injuries. The other person, who sustained bullet injuries in his head, was referred to SKIMS Soura, the block medical officer of Pampore, Dr Saba, informed.
The brother of Farooq Ahmad Kuchay had also been killed in police firing a few years ago. Farooq, a truck driver, was scheduled to get married next week.
Local residents said the ADC’s guard fired straight into the protesters.
Patil said the ADC’s vehicle had jumped a police naka at Pampore before moving ahead.
People from nearby villages later gathered at the spot and set the vehicle on fire, Patil said. A massive protest erupted after the killing.
At Trigam in Kupwara, government forces opened fire in the evening on protesters. Three persons have been injured in the firing, one of them critically, who has been identified as Ghulam Hassan Kumar, medical superintendent of SMHS hospital Dr Nazir Chaudhary informed. He said that Ghulam Hassan has received a bullet in his chest.
Dr Chaudhary said that apart from the three injured brought from Trigam, 14 other persons were admitted to the SMHS hospital during the day, most of them with pellet injuries.
On Tuesday, women led protests in all the ten districts of the Valley, defying curfew in south Kashmir and restrictions imposed by the administration in other districts.
After 6pm on Tuesday, as per the directions of pro-freedom leaders, shops and business establishments opened at many places for the first time in 24 days.
The largest gathering of people took place in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, where thousands of people led by women arrived at Gath in Khudwani village. Men and women from Rampora, Arwani, Wanpora, Fissal, Koimah came in processions on bikes, cabs, cars and load-carriers and assembled at Gath in Khudwani village. A makeshift bridge made with a series of boats was put in place to connect villages in the district.
Pro-freedom leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik had called for women to lead protests after Asr prayers on Tuesday.
About 20,000 people converged on Jablipora village near Bijbehara, the hometown of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. More than 2,000 women participated in what was designated as ‘azadi jalsa’ by the organisers, Ittihad-e-Millat, a loosely organised umbrella group. People were carrying hundreds of Pakistan flags and calling for azadi, for plebiscite, and for pro-India politicians of Kashmir to join the freedom movement. Slogans were raised in favour of Pakistan and also in support of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In Pulwama district, women took out protests from Lerv Kakapora and Pampore led by chairperson of Muslim Khawateen Markaz, Yasmeen Raja. Two persons, including a woman, sustained minor injuries in clashes with government forces. At Tral bus stand, a large number of people offered Asr prayers. Clashes took place at many places.
In Shopian’s Bongam and Imam Sahib areas, separate protests of women were taken out. Clashes broke out in these areas in which 16 persons sustained injuries.
In Anantnag, women led protests from Mattan, Anantnag, Aishmuqam, Sherebagh, Kadipora, Lazibal, and Cheeni Chowk. In chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s constituency Bijbehara, protests were reported from Jablipora and Kanalwan.
A complete shutdown was observed in Banihal town on the Srinagar-Jammu highway to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. The Byopar Mandal or traders’ federation of Banihal and the Imam of the Jamia Masjid of Banihal had called for the shutdown. The town will remain closed for the next four days.
Parvaiz Ahmed Sheikh, president of the Anjuman Islamia Bhaderwah, also called for a shutdown to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir.
“Such killings further alienate the people of Kashmir from India. Government of India should immediately devise a mechanism so that such unfortunate incidents are stopped and the guilty are punished. Is it the destiny of Kashmiris to get killed every day?” Parvaiz said.
In Srinagar, women took out protests at Habbakadal, Soura, Hazratbal, Lalbazar, Khonmouh, and Hyderpora areas under leaders of Asiya Andrabi’s Dukhtaran-i-Millat organisation. The biggest procession was taken from Jenab Sahib, Anchar, which moved through Buchpora, Ilahibagh, 90 feet road, Awantabawan and dispersed at police station Soura. Men joined in the procession that was initially led by women.
After the deployment of forces was withdrawn in the evening from Rainawari, men offered Maghrib prayers on the road at the main chowk. Women joined men in protests after the prayers.
In all the three districts of north Kashmir, women led the protests. In Baramulla district, a large gathering of women was held in the afternoon, for which women came from Palhallan, Sangrama chowk, Pothkhah and Pattan areas. A united Shia-Sunni women’s protest was taken out from Singpora, Pattan, which peacefully passed through many villages. All the four bridges that connect old Baramulla town with the new were blocked by the forces. Schools marked almost zero attendance. The traders’ federation of Sheeri reiterated its support call for the pro-freedom leadership.
In Kupwara, a protest march by women was taken out from Dragmulla BEd College and Dragmulla higher secondary school.
In Bandipora district, women took out rallies from Madar, Bandipora town, Hajin, Madwan and Baharabad.
The police handout issued in Srinagar in the evening said that the situation throughout Kashmir remained under control, although isolated incidents of stone-pelting were reported from Shopian, Kulgam, Awantipora, Sopore and Bandipora. “There were no reports of any injury to anybody,” it said.
—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmad, Bilal Habib and Gowhar Maqbool)