Convoy of army vehicles opens fire at people gathered on the Baramulla-Kupwara highway, 21-year-old hit by a bullet in his back; dozens injured elsewhere in clashes after Friday prayers
Srinagar: People of Nadihal village in Rafiabad area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district said that army soldiers shot dead a 21-year-old youth on Friday in an unprovoked firing on people holding a peaceful demonstration on the Baramulla-Kupwara highway. They said that a convoy of army vehicles on the highway opened fire at the people gathered there. A youth, identified as Waseem Ahmad Lone, son of Nazir Ahmad Lone, was hit by a bullet and succumbed to the injury at district hospital Baramulla.
Medical Superintendent of district hospital Baramulla, Dr Maqsood, told Kashmir Reader that Waseem was hit by a bullet in his back and the bullet pierced his heart.
Thousands of people, including women and children, took to streets and held demonstrations on the Baramulla highway as soon as the news of Waseem’s death reached his native village, Nadihal.
Waseem had passed Class 10 last year and since then had been working at home. Waseem’s father Nazir Ahmad Lone is a surrendered militant and now leads prayers in a local mosque.
Elsewhere in the Valley, dozens of civilians were injured in clashes that broke out after Friday prayers at several places. At least 20 civilians sustained injuries in clashes between youths and government forces at Soaf Shali area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Local sources said that as soon as a pro-freedom rally-cum-seminar commenced at the area, troops raided the venue and fired pellets and tear smoke canisters at the partticipants.
Enraged youths in retaliation pelted forces with stones and pitched battles continued for several hours. The injured were shifted to nearby heath centres in the area.
At least 12 civilians were injured at Chrar-e-Sharif in central Kashmir’ Budgam district after troops fired scores of tear smoke canisters and pellets at people holding pro-freedom demonstrations. Witnesses said that following the pro-freedom leadership’s protest programme, people of Budgam were asked to assemble at Chrar-e-Sharif but a heavy deployment of troops foiled the rally and prevented people from reaching the venue.
Witnesses said that when people resisted the forces, they came under heavy teargas shelling and pellet firing.
Large contingents of CRPF, police and army were deployed at several places in Pampore town to foil the ‘Pampore Chalo’ march called by the pro-freedom leadership. At Namblabal, Drangabal, Frestabal, Kadlabal, Tullebagh, Bagander Road, Saffron Colony and around saffron fields, contingents of forces were stationed to prevent people from marching towards the venue.
Later, a protest rally, attended by scores of people, was taken out from Drangbal. It ended peacefully at Khanqah-e-Molla of Pampore town. Muslim Khawateen Markaz chairman, Yasmeen Raja, was placed under house arrest on Friday to prevent him from taking part in the march.
Restrictions on movement were imposed across the Valley, especially where pro-freedom leaders in their protest calendar had asked people to assemble on Friday.
After Friday prayers, clashes erupted at Achabal, Arihal, Choudhary Gunj, Newa and Tral areas of Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama districts where youths hurled rocks at the forces while the latter lobbed teargas shells and pellets to scatter them. At these places, people raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans and engaged forces in pitched battles that lasted for several hours.
More than 10 people sustained injuries after clashes broke out at Palahallan area of Pattan in Sopore after Friday prayers. The troops fired dozens of tear smoke canisters and pellets at the protesters. Locals alleged that forces fired teargas shells inside a local mosque due to which its matting caught fire. The mosque’s windowpanes were also damaged. In Patan, demonstrations were also held at Singpora area.
Restrictions were imposed across Kangan area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district to foil the ‘Kangan Chalo’ march. Large contingents of police and paramilitary CRPF were deployed on roads leading towards the venue, and routes were blocked with concertina wires and other barricades.
Witnesses said that as soon as Friday congregational prayers ended in local mosques, scores of people began protesting against the government and chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. People tried to march towards the main market in Kangan but forces intercepted the march and shot several teargas shells and pellets at them.
Several people sustained injuries after troops deployed in uptown areas of Srinagar resorted to heavy teargas shelling and pellets to foil pro-freedom rallies in the localities.
Forces fired scores of tear smoke canisters and pellets at protesters at Old Barzulla, Natipora and Rambagh areas when they tried to carry out a pro-freedom rally. Locals alleged that troops broke windowpanes of several residential houses in these eareas.
A youth identified as Umar Fayaz, 20, resident of Barzulla, was seriously injured after he was hit by a volley of pellets. He was rushed to SMHS hospital for treatment.
Residents of Khati Darwaza locality in Srinagar alleged that troops ransacked several residential houses and beat up inmates. They said that CRPF men from the Pokhribal camp ransack houses and damage parked vehicles on a daily basis.
People also held demonstrations after Friday prayers at several places like Safapora, Kondbal, Beehama, and Kullan Sonamarg areas in Ganderbal district.
Clashes broke out at Hajin in Bandipora district after Friday prayers in the local mosques. Scores of people assembled outside the Jamia Masjid at Hajin and raised pro-freedom, pro-Burhan and anti-India slogans. Youths hurled rocks at the Army Goodwill School and were fired upon with teargas shells and pellets by the government forces. During the clashes, a youth was arrested by police.
Police and paramilitary forces foiled a pro-freedom march that was to be taken out in Bandipora town after Friday prayers. Witnesses said that before the people could assemble, police attacked them. The action led to intense clashes in the area.
Clashes also erupted between youths and government troops at Gulshan Chowk, Plan, Ajar and Nowpora areas of the district. A procession was taken out by residents of Ajas area in which people raised slogans against the government forces.
Hurriyat (G) general secretary Bandipora, Salman Yousuf, who is also a human rights activist, was arrested by police at Hajin during a pro-freedom rally.
Sources said that at least 17 people have been booked under the Public Safety Act in Bandipora district in the past few days.
Residents of Suwansu area in Qazigund blocked the national highway after Friday prayers and held demonstrations against the arrest of a local youth, Aqib Manzoor.
Pro-freedom rallies were held at various places in Baramulla. At Zogiyar village a rally was held shortly after the Friday prayers. At Sheeri, a boy was injured during clashes with government forces. Another youth, Fayaz Ahmad Kumar, was injured during a raid by police.
Residents of Dalgate area in Srinagar alleged that troops thrashed several people without any provocation. They said that troops blocked the entry and exit points of the locality and nobody was allowed to enter or leave the area.
Similar reports came from Batamaloo locality and old-city areas of Srinagar, where troops sealed off all routes to prevent people from holding pro-freedom demonstrations.
A man named Tauseef Ahmad Bhat, resident of Pulwama, was beaten by a group of youths in Natipora while he was taking photographs of a protest.
(With inputs from Bilal Habib and Shiekh Anees)