Convoy of forces arrives at Baramulla rally and starts firing, wounding more than 100; many injured in Srinagar, 13-year-old critically
Srinagar: Government troops continued to quell peaceful protests across Kashmir with excessive use of force on Friday, while the government imposed curfew in many areas to prevent congregations. About 150 unarmed protesters were injured in the day, mostly by pellets and varieties of shells fired by government troops.
The day started with re-imposition of curfew in most parts of capital Srinagar and other sensitive towns. Friday congregational prayers could not be held for the ninth consecutive Friday since July 8 at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, at Khanqah-e-Moalla in Pampore and at several central mosques in the Valley. Main roads leading to central mosques were blocked with barbed wire and were occupied with heavily armed police and paramilitary personnel.
Normal life continued to remain crippled across the Valley on the 63rd straight day as government offices, educational institutions, banks and post offices remained shut and public traffic off the roads. Train services between Banihal and Baramulla also remain suspended since the uprising began in Kashmir.
The pro-freedom leadership had called for massive protests at district headquarters after the Friday prayers. Sources said that wherever the government forces avoided confrontation with the protesters, the rallies ended peacefully. Clashes erupted at several places when the government forces blocked peaceful marches.
In Baramulla, more than a 100 persons, including women and children, were injured in different areas of the district. Official reports said that 60 people were injured in Hewan village of Narvaw when police and army personnel used force to quell a pro-freedom rally, which was scheduled to be addressed by Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani over phone.
Eyewitness and villagers of Hewan said that people of Fatehgrah, Hewan, Malpora, Kalayban and other villages assembled at a public park where canopies had been erected for the purpose. However, before the Friday prayers, a huge contingent of government forces including army personnel descended on the venue in a convoy of vehicles. Shortly after disembarking from the vehicles, the personnel fired tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets towards the people and put the podium on fire. This led to massive clashes in the village for several hours. Locals said that at least 60 villagers were injured.
Why is the Centre imposing 144? This should be a local decision & in any case how can it be imposed during Eid Namaz https://t.co/E14HRDtSV8
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) September 9, 2016
Official records at primary health centre Hewan confirmed that 60 people were treated in the hospital of which six were referred to other hospitals. Three persons–Shabir Ahmad, Rayees Ahmad and Shakeela Begam — were refereed to Srinagar for further treatment.
Local people alleged that troops damaged windowpanes of hundreds of residential houses as well as a mosque, while home appliances worth millions of rupees were damaged. A resident said that government forces barged into the local mosque and seized the public address system, an inverter, and several electrical goods. The uniformed personnel showered bullets on the power transformers installed in the village. Six persons including the Imam of the mosque, Nazir Ahmad Khan, were arrested.
On August 20, government forces had damaged public property in neighbouring Fatehgrah village, leading to clashes in which over 30 people were injured.
Clashes broke out at Cement bridge and Azadgunj bridge in Baramulla town in which over 20 people including some policemen were injured. The clashes began after people assembled at Azadgunj Chowk and offered Friday prayers. Soon after the prayers, groups of youths tried to cross the bridges but the government forces did not allow them to do so. This resulted in clashes that lasted for several hours.
Clashes also broke out at Sopore, Pattan and Rafiabad areas of Baramulla district in which over 20 people were injured. Locals from Palhalan and adjacent areas held Friday prayers at nearby Chanderhama where a motorcycle rally visited different villages and later reached Palhalan bus stand, where people clashed with government forces. At least 10 persons were wounded in the clashes. Pro-freedom rallies were also held in Rebban village of Rafiabad where 10 locals were injured in clashes with government forces.
Reports of pro-freedom rallies poured in from Bomai, Botengo, Warpora, Jamia Masjid Sopore, Delina, Khawaja Bagh, Kreeri, Sheeri, Dewan Bagh, Wusan, Singhpora, Bahrampora, Watergam, Rohama, Kitchama, Kunzar, Tangmarg, Babareshi, Tragpora, Malpora, Nowshera, Magam, Andergam, Mongam, Chankhan, Sangrama, Nowpora and other areas of Baramulla district.
In Srinagar, at least 25 civilians sustained injuries, one critically, during fierce clashes that erupted near Sabzi Market Soura after a peaceful protest march was intercepted by a contingent of forces. Witnesses said that the forces resorted to heavy pellet and teargas shelling to scatter the protesters who were raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.
A 13-year-old teenager from Anchar area received critical pellet injuries in his left eye and along with seven others was rushed to nearby SKIMS hospital from where he was referred to SMHS hospital. The clashes intensified as soon as the news of the forces’ action spread in the locality. The clashes lasted for several with troops lobbing dozens of teargas shells and firing pellets.
Earlier, after the Friday congregation at Jenab Saheb Anchar, people took out a rally against the atrocities and civilian killings in the Valley.
Government troops used excessive force to quell protests in Nawab Bazaar area of old Srinagar when the forces deployment was withdrawing from the area after holding the local population besieged for the entire day. Dozens of agitated youth came out on streets to hold protests. The government forces fired countless number of tear smoke shells to quell the protests. The protests continued till late in the evening.
Locals said that paramilitaries deployed in strength in Bagh-e-Mehtab area of uptown Srinagar fired PAVA shells when massive protests erupted in the area after the culmination of Friday prayers.
Clashes erupted in Hazratbal area of Srinagar after the government forces tried to foil pro-freedom protests. Reports and witnesses said that forces used mild lathi-charge and teargas shelling to disperse protesters who were shouting slogans in favour of Kashmir’s freedom.
Protest rallies were taken out at several places in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, even as the authorities disallowed Friday prayers at Beehama Jamia Masjid for the seventh consecutive week. The rallies were taken out after Friday prayers in Beehama, Safapora, Manigam, Batwina, Kangan and Preng areas of the district.
The government forces resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse a protest demonstration in Bandipora town after Friday prayers. Locals alleged that people took out a peaceful rally after prayers against the civilian killings and nocturnal raids in the north Kashmir town, after which the men in uniform used force against them.
“People were peacefully raising slogans and they were about to disperse. However, police and other forces fired tear gas canisters on them,” said a local.
Clashes between government forces and protesters erupted in Dooru area of Anantnag district after Friday prayers. As the prayers ended and people started raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, government forces swung into action and resorted to tear gas shelling that resulted in injuries to many people. The agitated people, according to reports, resorted to massive stone-pelting.
The residents of Bathnoor and Armulla villages of Pulwama district in south Kashmir on Friday alleged that government forces carried out vandalism during an overnight raid. They alleged that forces entered the villages Thursday night and damaged property worth crores of rupees. “They ransacked houses, damaged vehicles and looted belongings of the people,” alleged a resident.
Protests and clashes broke out at Dadsara Tral while a march was taken out from Khaniqah-e Faiz Panah to bus stand Tral. Hundreds of people waving green flags took part in the demonstration.
At least four persons were injured after government forces allegedly fired pellets at protesters in Shopian town in south Kashmir. Hospital sources said that four persons have been hit by pellets. One of the injured, identified as Ajaz Ahmed, was referred to Srinagar for treatment, they said. Reports said that youths defied curfew and stage protests in Shopian town. They said that forces deployed in the area tried to disperse the protesters, triggering clashes. Protests and clashes also took place at Tukroo, Hospital Road, Memendar, Kachdora and Vihil villages. At least 20 persons were injured in the clashes, most of whom did not report to hospital for fear of being profiled. Sources said two injured persons with injuries in eyes and abdomen were referred to Srinagar for treatment.
Sources said that government forces damaged six power transformers with bullets, leaving villages in darkness. Rallies were also held at Keller, Sedow, Trenz, Turkawangam, Rohmoo, Murran, Keller, Tahab and Newa villages.
At Waghama Bijbehara, protesters burnt the effigy of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Several persons were injured in clashes between youth and government forces after Friday prayers in Hajin area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. Two of the injured youth were later shifted to SMHS and JVC hospital with eye injuries. The injured have been identified as Irshad Ahmad and Waseem Ahmad.
People alleged that government forces damaged window panes and broke glasses of several residential houses at Mir Mohallah and Ghat Mohallah.
Protest rallies were taken out at Saderkoot, Sumbal, Shahgund, Baharabad and Naidkhai villages.
Reports from south Kashmir’s Kulgam district said that protest marches were taken out in almost every area after Friday prayers. More than 10 persons were injured during clashes between protesters and government forces in Khadwani Koimouh area of the district while a policeman was injured after he was hit by a stone at Hospital Road. Police used pellets and shells to keep protesters at bay. At Bonigam, two youths were arrested by police, sparking protests. Stone-pelting occurred at Dooru while massive pro-freedom processions were taken out at Larkipora and Kabamarg of Anantnag district. Reports of rallies also poured in from Churat, Mir Maidan, Lawdoora, Qaimoh YK Pora, Hiller Shahabad, Tanjloo, Khanabad, Salyaloo, Kurigam and other areas.
A police spokesperson said that the situation remained relatively calm and peaceful throughout Kashmir.
An official spokesman quoting Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Basheer Khan said that keeping in view the violence and stone pelting incidents of the previous Fridays, curfew was imposed in 12 police stations of Srinagar, towns of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Awantipora and Baramulla.
Meanwhile, according to a statement issued by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir, 31 incidents of stone pelting were reported from Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Baramulla, Sopore, Bandipora and Handwara. “At these places, miscreants assembled on the roads after Friday prayers and pelted stones on police and security force deployments,” it said.
—With inputs from Nazir Gillo, Mushtaq Ahmad, Bilal Habib, Kaunsar Gul and Gowher Maqbool