Many injured as forces fire at pro-freedom rallies in Kulgam, Shopian; police arrest 56 youths during past 24 hours
Srinagar: The entire Kashmir valley remained caged on the 72nd straight day of the raging anti-India uprising amid protests and clashes that left dozens of civilians injured on Sunday.
Thousands of policemen and paramilitary troopers remained deployed on main roads and interior areas of the valley to prevent anti-India protests that have become a norm in south Kashmir.
Many arterial roads had been blocked, fully or partially, with concertina wire to prevent such protests.
Mobile telephony services, except government-owned BSNL post-paid connections, and mobile internet continue to remain suspended.
The government forces have so far killed 84 unarmed civilian protesters and injured more than 14000 others, 700 of whom have eye injuries due to pellet ammunition.
On Sunday, clashes erupted between youths and government troops in which more than 50 civilians sustained injuries after the government forces fired tear smoke canisters and pellets to disperse the protesters.
At least 30 people were injured after troops foiled a pro-freedom rally-cum-seminar that was scheduled to be held at Manzgam village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. A large contingent of police and paramilitary troopers thwarted the rally in the morning.
The people, however, defying curfew, tried to march towards the rally venue but forces deployed in the area stopped them, triggering clashes. While the protesters threw stones, the forces responded by teargas canisters and pellets. The injured civilians were rushed to various health facilities of Kulgam district.
A strict curfew was imposed across Shopian district after the joint pro-freedom leadership had appealed to the people to march towards Shopian town on Sunday. All the routes leading towards Shopian town were sealed with razor wires and troops remained stationed at the sensitive spots throughout the day.
According to the locals, the forces had brought tractors and bulldozers to clear the blockades erected by the locals to prevent forces from arresting people.
Clashes broke out between youths and forces at Bungam village of Shopian district after later were protesting against the curfew imposed by the government. The forces fired tear smoke canisters and pellets at the protesters while as, youths pelted them with stone.
Defying curfew like restrictions, scores of people from Kaloosa, Nowpora, Plan, Papchan, Aloosa, Onagam, Panzigam, Watapora and other adjoining localities of north Kashmir’s Bandipora carried protest rally from Gulshan chowk to Eidgah Bandipora.
Local sources said that people were asked to assemble at Eidgah to hold demonstrations against the civilian killings and the alleged atrocities committed by the forces. Army soldiers have been reportedly deployed at a few places across Bandipora district.
A protest demonstration was held at Dadsara area of Tral town against the forces action that had had resorted to unprovoked massive shelling during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.
The locals said that troops fired dozens of teargas, pallet and PAVA shells that created panic in the locality.
“They created a terror like situation in the area and several children and the aged persons had breathing problems due to massive shelling,” a local said.
The residents poured onto streets during the night and demonstrated against the forces.
The troops also fired directly at the local power transformer and left it completely damaged, they said. The locals alleged that the forces ransacked dozens of residential houses and damaged household stuff there.
Residents of Padgampora village of Pulwama district said government forces ran amok and broke window panes on night Saturday night.
The locals of Mehjoor Nagar area of Srinagar held a protest demonstration against the arrest of a few local youths over the charges of alleged stone-pelting during the on-going public uprising. Raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, the protesters were demanding release of the arrested youths.
Later, forces reached the area and lobbed several rounds of teargas shells to disperse the protesters in which several people have sustained injuries.
According to the District Magistrate Shopian, there will be curfew on Monday in Vehil village and its adjacent areas in view of proposed pro-freedom rally-cum seminar in the area.
A police statement on Sunday said that apart from few stone pelting incidents in Kulgam, Kupwara and Awantipora, overall “situation remained under control across the valley”.
It said that “minor” stone pelting incidents were reported from Sadoora in Kulgam, Padgampora in Awantipora and Panzgam in Kupwara.
“At these places miscreants assembled on roads and pelted stones on police and security force deployments. They were dispersed by using mild force. There was increased vehicular movement on city roads as well as between various districts and towns,” the statement said.
It said that restrictions under section 144 CrPC remained in force in the valley. However, “curfew was imposed under the areas of some police stations in Srinagar city and in Shopian town only”.
“Continuing its drive against the trouble mongers involved in damaging civilian vehicles, shops, houses and placing obstructions on roads and lanes, police arrested 56 miscreants during the last 24 hours,” it said.
—With inputs from Bilal Habib and Owais Farooqi