Srinagar: A strict curfew was imposed in downtown areas of Srinagar on Monday following the death of an 18-year-old from a teargas shell the previous day. All roads leading towards Fateh Kadal, where the slain youth Irfan Fayaz Wani lived, were blocked with concertina wires and forces deployed in strength to thwart any demonstration.
Hundreds of people nevertheless held a protest in Fateh Kadal against the “targeted fire”, alleging that the youth had been threatened to be killed by police officers. The protesters raised loud anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.
At several places in Srinagar, in-absentia funeral prayers were offered for the slain youth on Sunday night and throughout Monday.
In incidents of clashes with government forces at other places in the Valley, three dozen people sustained injuries. In Ganowpora village of Shopian, at least 25 people suffered injuries during clashes with police and army who tried to disrupt the ‘Referendum March’ organised by the locals.
Witnesses said that a police team early in the morning rushed to the venue of the programme and set ablaze the tent where the people were to assemble. This led to protests by locals and policemen were forced to leave the spot. People later made fresh arrangements and organised the programme. But at about 2pm a joint team of army and policemen, witnesses said, arrived at the venue again and lobbed tear smoke shells at the crowd. The injured were treated at nearby health centres.
At least 12 people sustained injuries after forces lobbed several teargas shells and fired pellets to disperse a group of youth near Hospital Road in Kulgam district. The injured were rushed to the nearby heath centre while two of them were sifted to sub-district hospital Anantnag due to severity of their injuries.
Three people suffered injuries after forces attacked a small gathering of people in Ruhmoo in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Witnesses said that forces fired teargas and pellets without any provocation by the locals.
Four persons sustained injuries after clashes between government forces and protesters broke out in Nutnoosa village of Kupwara district. Authorities enforced curfew in Kupwara town soon after the clashes.
Three among the four injured were shifted to Handwara hospital for treatment, police sources said. “The forces attacked a peaceful protest demonstration that triggered violent clashes in the village. The CRPF men also ransacked a few houses and damaged window panes,” said a protestor.
Following the clashes, additional reinforcements were rushed to the village to contain the clashes, but they lasted for hours. The people later barricaded the road leading to the village.
A policeman was injured in Lalpora town of Kupwara district during clashes that lasted for an hour, police sources said. Meanwhile, after restrictions being in place during the day, night curfew was imposed in Kupwara town and few other areas for the second consecutive day. At 6pm an announcement was made on the public address system that curfew was in force in the town.
Minor clashes and protests were reported from Haripora, main town Anantnag, Wuyan and Khrew areas of south Kashmir.
Scores of people participated in a protest rally carried out in Aloosa village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Monday afternoon. Raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, people from Ashtengoo, Aloosa, Malangham and Kehnusa participated in the protest rally. The participants riding on tractors and motorcycles also moved through several adjoining areas of the locality.
Several local Imams and pro-freedom activists of Palhallan Pattan held a press conference at the local Eidgah and “warned” police and government forces “to not cross limits”.
Witnesses said that the speakers in their address highlighted the highhandedness of police and government forces. They said that Palhallan area was being made a prime target to weaken the legitimate voice of people.
“We are being targeted by men in uniform every time because we love our martyrs and have been with the freedom struggle,” the speakers said. They said that “we warn police and other forces not to cross limits and stop harassing people otherwise we know how to protect our youth, women and elders.”
The speakers also said that the Kashmir dispute should be resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
Clashes erupted in Arampora, Lal Bab Sahab, Chinkipora and Rahim Sahab areas between youth and forces. Sources said that police and paramilitary forces fired several tear-smoke canisters to scatter the protesters. Earlier, protestors raised strong pro-freedom and anti-India slogans in the area.
Stone-pelting occurred at Cement Bridge and Azad Gunj Bridge in Baramulla district in response to which forces used tear-smoke canisters to disperse protestors.
A pro-freedom seminar was organised in Palhalan where scholars from various religious sects addressed a gathering of thousands of people. The scholars in their address stressed on unity and appealed to people to “remain steadfast to take the current uprising to its logical end”.
In Hajin area of Baramulla district, locals as well as people from adjoining villages offered special Asr prayers as a mark of protest. Activists of Hurriyat (G) and Muslim League later led a protest march in the area that moved through several villages amid heavy sloganeering in favour of freedom. Similar rallies were reported from Shahgund, Madwan and Naidhkai areas of Bandipora district.
A pro-freedom rally was organised in Hariparigam area of Tral town in Pulwama district. Witnesses said that government forces used tear-smoke shelling to foil the rally, but the people regrouped and organised the rally. The rally was addressed by a couple of speakers who urged people to be steadfast and to protest peacefully.
Late-night clashes erupted in several areas of old Srinagar, including Bohri Kadal, where youth pelted forces with stones while forces lobbed teargas shells. In Jenab Saheb, Anchar, hundreds of people held a protest demonstration against the killing of Irfan Fayaz Wani.
A police handout issued here said that curfew was relaxed in the jurisdiction of police stations of uptown Srinagar from 9am to 5pm, including in Ram Munshi Bag, Kothi Bagh, Raj Bagh, Sadder, Nowgam, Shaheed Gunj, Karan Nagar, Shergarhi and Parimpora.
It said that curfew was also relaxed in Soura, Lal Bazar and Nigeen police stations. “During the relaxation hours no untoward incident was reported. Markets remained open and traffic was normal on roads,” it said.
“Situation remained peaceful in Srinagar, Pulwama, Kulgam, Ganderbal, Bandipore, Kupwara, Baramulla. However, 5 incidents of stone-pelting were reported from Budgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Sopore. These incidents were reported from Hyderpora in Budgam, Salli in Anantnag, Wathu, Gonapora in Shopian and Gulabad in Sopore,” the statement said. The movement of traffic on national highway and other roads remained normal, it said.
With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmad Bilal Habib and Gowhar Maqbool