Srinagar: The balloon of “artificial normalcy” deflated in Kashmir on Friday as tens of thousands of people staged protest demonstrations across the Valley and clashed with government forces despite curfew, restrictions and fanning out of thousands of personnel of the Indian army, paramilitaries and J&K police to throttle the public resentment. Hospitals in Srinagar received dozens of injured persons from several parts of Kashmir in the afternoon, many of them hit with pellets and bullets.
This was the eighth Friday in a series when the state government imposed curfew in most of the Valley’s towns to thwart public protests. The capital Srinagar resembled a garrison as armed soldiers in riot gears dominated every street and people were largely confined to their homes. Congregational prayers were not held in Jamia Masjid and at several prominent mosques due to curfew and massive deployment of government forces.
Massive protests erupted in New Colony Palapora in the outskirts of Srinagar when the body of 12-year-old Danish Sultan Haroo, son of Muhammad Sultan, was fished out from Jhelum River early on Friday. The boy drowned when he and three other boys jumped into the Jhelum to escape a group of policemen that was chasing them. While the three others swam to safety, Haroo, a student of Oxford Public School, drowned.
A large number of people chanting anti-India slogans gathered in Palpora after the body was retrieved. They took out a massive procession to Eidgah where Haroo was laid in the martyrs’ graveyard. Thousands of people participated in his funeral prayers. Intense clashes broke out in the area soon afterwards. Government forces resorted to heavy teargas shelling.
Massive clashes also broke out in Kaka Sarai area of downtown Srinagar after government forces fired teargas shells into a protest rally. Reports said that hundreds of protesters, including women and children, took out a rally to demand the release of youths arrested by police. Witnesses said that many people were wounded in forces’ action. The protesters said that scores of youth have been picked up by police during nocturnal raids.
Intense clashes erupted at Barthana in Parimpora area of the city outskirts on Friday morning. Locals said that more than a dozen protesters were injured during the clashes, four among them shifted to JVC hospital. Police arrested one youth during clashes, witnesses said. Clashes erupted soon after locals started protesting against the drowning of Danish Haroo. Clashes also broke out in Zampakadal where protesters demanded the release of arrested youth.
Reports said that pro-freedom rallies and protests were held in Old Barzulla, Mehjoor Nagar, Natipora, Noorbagh, Brein Nishat, Shivpora and Sonawar. Eyewitnesses said that after Friday prayers culminated in Shivpora area, youths took to streets and chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The youth were marching towards the highway when a contingent of paramilitary CRPF intercepted them, triggering massive clashes. The forces allegedly smashed windowpanes of some houses and also beat up inmates. A youngster, Mehrajuddin Bhat, son of Abdul Rehman Bhat, was shifted to SKIMS Soura after he received serious pellet injuries at Brein Nishat during clashes with government forces.
A pro-freedom rally was held in Budgam district that was attended by thousands of people.
A massive pro-freedom rally was organised in Hanjiveera Pattan in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Protesters shortly after Friday congregational prayers hit the roads and amid pro-freedom slogans marched through the lanes and bye-lanes of the area.
Eyewitnesses said that over a dozen people were wounded in different areas of Pattan town including Palhalan, Singpora, Malpora, Miyamohalla, Hamray, Nihalpora, Tapper and other areas during clashes between protesters and government forces. Some protesters suffered pellet injuries and were shifted to SMHS hospital Srinagar.
In Palhallan area, thousands of people from Goshbugh and Ussan villages offered prayers at the Eidgah. Shortly after the culmination of Friday prayers, people tried to march towards Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. They were stopped by police and this triggered massive clashes. Locals said that government forces used pellet guns injuring more than 10 protesters.
Many people were wounded in clashes that erupted between protesters and government forces in Sopore town. Witnesses said that a procession was taken out by people from Jamia Masjid Sopore. Some youth present in the procession pelted stones on police, triggering clashes.
Clashes erupted in Hajin in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district after protesters attacked the Army Goodwill School located in the area. Reports said that forces fired teargas shells and pellets to disperse the protesters, triggering massive clashes. A youngster Sajad Ahmad Dar, resident of Danger Mohalla, was hit by pellets in his eyes. He was shifted to SMHS hospital for further treatment.
Reports of clashes were received from Nowpora and Gulshan Chowk areas of the district.
Residents of Natpora village in Bandipora alleged that government forces barged into their homes and beat up inmates. “Government forces barged into our homes last evening without any provocation, thrashed the inmates, and ransacked the houses,” said a resident. He said there were no stone-pelting protests going on in the area when the forces carried out the vandalism.
At least six persons, including two women, were injured after government forces fired teargas shells and pellets on protesters at Baharabad Hajin in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that soon after Friday prayers, people including women assembled at main road Baharabad and raised pro-Burhan and pro-Azadi slogans. In the meantime, a team of police and CRPF reached the spot and fired several rounds of teargas shells and pellets without any warning at the protesters. Six persons including two women were injured. The youth among the protesters later pelted stones at the team, leading to clashes which were going on when this report was filed.
Massive pro freedom rallies were held at Saderkoot, Naidkhai, Baharbad, Vijpara, Madwan and Shahgund areas against the police’s arrest spree and civilian killings.
Doctors at the sub-district hospital confirmed that one of the injured persons suffered a pellet injury in his right eye. “He was referred to Srinagar Hospital for advanced treatment,” said a hospital source.
Clashes were witnessed in Ajar locality after congregational Friday prayers between youth and security forces.
Peaceful protest rallies were carried out in Ajar, Chittibandey, Aragam, Ayathmulla, Kaloosa, Ashtengoo, Aloosa, Kehnusa, Papchan, Aloosa, and Naidkhai areas.
Witnesses said that residents of Ajas area offered Friday congregation prayers in Eidgah Ajas and later took out a protest rally that culminated peacefully. Sources said that 27 persons were injured in Bandipora area, and at least four of them were shifted to Srinagar for treatment.
Reports said that over 60 political workers and three sarpanches announced their resignation on Friday in a massive public rally in Nadihal village where a teenager was killed in firing by forces two days ago. Reports said that the grandfather of the slain youngster, Danish Lone, addressed the people and asked them to remain steadfast in anti-India protests. “Please don’t offer condolences to me. I am lucky that my grandson sacrificed his life for the cause of Kashmiris. We must stand united to fight the oppressor and fight for the right to self-determination,” Habibullah Lone said.
Reports said that the people had gathered in a local playground where 62 activists of various pro-India political parties including three sarpanches announced their resignation. All the activists said that they had resigned on their own and the decision was not taken under any pressure.
Massive pro-freedom rallies were organised in different areas of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Such rallies were held at Lelhar, Samboora, Kakapora, Karimabad, Rajpora, Littar, Drabgam, Rohmu, Muran, Newa, Tahab, Hal, Dangarpora and other parts. Civil society members staged a peaceful pro-freedom protest in Pulwama town. People at Gadoora village staged a protest against the police’s arrest spree. According to protesters, police picked up five youth during a night raid. The youth were identified as Naseer Ahmed Pandit, Adil Ahmed Wani, Muzafar Ahmed, Arshid Ahmed and Owais Ahmed Wagay.
Protests were also held in different parts of Kulgam district including Bugam, Bogund, Muhammadpora, Yaripora, Toolinowpora, Soput, Tangapora, Koimou, Srindhu, Panewa and other areas. The effigies of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were set on fire at Srindhu and Koimoh villages. Stone pelting incidents were also reported from Lower Munda, Qazigund.
Police imposed curfew to foil a pro-freedom rally at Dooru area in Anantnag. However, people assembled in the adjacent village of Mehmood Abad and held a massive pro-freedom rally. Protest marches were also taken out in Bijbehara, Chee, Seer Hamdan and other areas of the district. Reports said that miscreants attacked a hospital ambulance near Behram Sahab Harnag area in which three hospital employees were injured.
Clashes broke out in Tral town when youth pelted stones on government forces near Eidgah. Protests also broke out in Dadsara after a youth, Nisar Ahmed Rather, was booked under Public Safety Act.
According to Zonal Police Headquarters, Kashmir, curfew was imposed in Srinagar, towns of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Baramulla today.
In a statement, a spokesman of the Zonal Police Headquarters said that 35 stone pelting incidents were reported from Srinagar, Sopore, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Baramulla, Bandipora, Kulgam and Kupwara till the filing of their report. “At these places, after Friday prayers miscreants assembled on the roads and pelted stones on police and security force deployments,” the spokesman said.
He said that on Thursday evening some unknown persons set ablaze a Vocational Training Center at Watergam in the jurisdiction of Police Station Dangiwacha, Sopore, resulting in complete damage to the structure. “Sopore police has registered a case in this regard,” he said.