​200 injured in pro-freedom protests

​200 injured in pro-freedom protests

March to Lal Chowk blocked with force, curfew; prayers for slain Pakistani soldiers offered for second day

No prayers were offered at Jamia Masjid for the 12th consecutive Friday because of restrictions | Photo: Faisal Khan
No prayers were offered at Jamia Masjid for the 12th consecutive Friday because of restrictions | Photo: Faisal Khan

Srinagar: Strict curfew and restrictions were imposed by the government on Friday to thwart the “Lal Chowk Chalo” call given by the joint pro-freedom leadership. Defiance of the government restrictions led to clashes with government troops in which more than 200 civilians sustained injuries.
Forces were stationed at majority of the places across Kashmir and concertina wires laid on roads leading towards Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
In Nadihal village of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, at least 60 people were injured during clashes between youths and government troops after they raided the village to stop people from offering Friday congregational prayers.
Witnesses said that people were asked to march towards Nadihal and assemble at the playground of a local school to offer Friday prayers as a mark of protest against the killing of a two local youths — Waseem Nazir Lone and Danish Manzoor Lone — by government troops.
Contingents of police and paramilitary forces entered the village and started indiscriminate teargas and pellet firing to disperse people, the locals said.
“We were readying for the (Friday) prayers at a local school ground in Nadihal when troops reached the venue and fired tear smoke canisters and pellets at us. The shelling created panic at the venue,” a local said.
Furious youths, in retaliation, hurled rocks at the forces and the pitched battle continued for several hours. The forces, locals said, damaged several residential houses and also fired bullets upon two local power transformers leaving them completely damaged.
Local said that windowpanes of 60 residential houses and private vehicles were smashed while a few locals were beaten with batons by the forces.
Medical Superintendent of district hospital Baramulla told Kashmir Reader that 34 people were injured during the clashes at Nadihal on Friday were admitted to the hospital.
“Among them two who sustained eye and shell injuries have been referred to Srinagar for special treatment,” he said. The rest of the injured were either treated locally or were taken to other nearby health centres.
Later, at about 3:30pm, people offered Friday prayers and held demonstrations against the forces’ action.
Reports said that a 55-year-old woman identified as Sara Begum, wife of Ghulam Hassan Teli, died of a heart attack when forces allegedly pelted stones and attacked entrance gates at Chee village of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The woman’s family members said that at about 11pm they heard loud bangs and the lady, Sara Begum, began trembling because of stones being thrown at her house by the troops. She was later rushed to district hospital Anantnag where doctors declared her brought dead.
People assembled outside Teli’s house as soon as announcements were made on masjid loudspeakers asking people came out of their houses to hold demonstrations.
Fierce clashes left at least 10 people injured after troops lobbed scores of teargas shells and fired pellets to scatter the protestors.
Local sources said that a pro-freedom rally was scheduled to be held at old town Baramulla but forces raided the area before the rally could take place. The forces’ raid triggered resentment among the people and later clashes erupted at several nearby areas where youths hurled stones and came under heavy shelling from the forces. At least 10 people sustained injuries.
Government troops raided Seer village in Sopore town where a pro-freedom seminar-cum-rally was organised by the locals. Local sources said that troops reached the venue and dismantled the stage erected by the locals and took away with them loudspeakers meant for the rally. Locals also alleged that troops damaged their private property. A few persons sustained injuries during the forces’ action.
More than 20 people were injured after venue of a proposed pro-freedom rally was raided by forces at New Colony in Sopore. Witnesses said that forces lobbed dozens of teargas shells and fired pellets at the rally, triggering clashes between youths and troops. The clashes later spread to nearby areas of general bus-stand Sopore, Jama Qadeem, Gilgit, Arampora, Batapora and Maharajpora. Angry youths hurled stones at the forces in these areas and pitched battles continued for several hours. Locals alleged that five electric transformers were damaged by the forces.
Sources said that 15 injured were rushed to sub-district hospital Sopore and among them one was referred to Srinagar due to severity of his injuries.
Protests demonstrations were also reported from Sangrama, Khwaja Bagh, Kreeri, Wagoora and Zainagir areas where people raised slogans and protested against the civilian killings. Clashes also broke out at Sheeri in Baramulla.
The clashes left at least 25 people injured who were rushed to different health facilities of Tral town. Locals alleged that troops deployed in the area beat up farmers who were working in paddy fields after clashes were over in the area. Locals have also alleged that forces damaged private property and vehicles.
A protest rally led by Mohammad Yousuf Falahi was carried out at Nagbal area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district that witnessed participation of thousands of people. Loclas alleged that forces have damaged a power transformer in the area.
Several people sustained injuries following clashes that erupted at Mohanpora, main town Kulgam, Ziyarat Gali, Wakai and Kelum areas of Kulgam district after Friday prayers. Youths at these places pelted forces with stones while the latter resorted to teargas shelling to disperse stone-throwing people.
Fierce clashes erupted between youths and government troops at Burhan’s hometown Tral after forces intercepted a pro-freedom march that was carried out after Friday prayers.
A peaceful protest march was carried out at Pampore town after Friday prayers where people raised slogans in favour of freedom of Kashmir. Later in the evening, candle light protests were held at the same venue.
At Samboora village of Pampore where forces created havoc a few days ago, a protest demonstration was held against the forces’ action.
Clashes also broke out at Tahab and Newa areas of Pulwama district.
Protests were held at Seer Hamdan and Hasan Pora area of Bijbehara town of Anantnag district.
Clashes erupted at main market Soura after Friday prayers against the arrest of local youths by the police during the last 24 hours. At least six youths sustained injuries during the clashes.
Clashes erupted between youth and government forces at Hajin area of Bandipora district after forces intercepted a pro-freedom march that was carried out after Friday prayers.
Witnesses said that soon after Friday prayers, scores of people assembled outside the bus stand of Hajin and raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. When people tried to advance further, forces intercepted the march near army school Hajin, triggering clashes in the locality. Forces lobbed dozens of teargas shells and pellets while youths hurled stones at the troops. A few of the rally’s participants sustained minor injuries.
Residents of Baharabad village in Bandipora alleged that troops ransacked dozens of residential houses and broke their window glasses.
At least 10 people sustained injuries during clashes at Jogi Lanker area in Rainawari Srinagar following the Friday prayers. Witnesses said that police and Para-military CRPF forces resorted to teargas shelling at the people who were protesting against the troops’ barging into residential houses and damaging valuables there. Scores of men and women took to streets and raised slogans against police and CRPF men. A woman also suffered injuries when forces barged into her house. Clashes were also reported from Kralyar and Mughal Mohalla areas of Rainawari.
Following the resistance leadership’s programme, hundreds of people held freedom rallies in Hyderpora, Pirbagh and Barzulla areas of Srinagar on Friday. Reports said that people came out on Srinagar Airport road and held demonstrations there. When people tried to march towards Lal Chowk, forces stopped them from advancing further.
In Hazratbal, reports said that police tried to stop media personnel from covering Friday congregational prayers in the dargah. However, photo-journalists were allowed to enter the Dargah premises after some senior officers told their men to not stop them.
Intense clashes erupted at Batamaloo area of Srinagar after forces damaged private property of locals, residents said. People came out on roads and held demonstrations against the vandalism when troops reached the spot and lobbed tear smoke canisters and fired pellets at them, triggering clashes in the locality. Several people are reported to have sustained injuries in the clashes.
Many persons were injured in clashes that erupted following Friday prayers at Beehama chowk and Pandach areas of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Peaceful protests were also reported from Kullan, Sumbal, Safapora, Manigam, and Rezan Sonamarg area where people raised slogans in favour of freedom.
Intense clashes erupted at Kanihama, Mazhama, Kawoosa, Narbal, Ompora, Beerwah and  Budran  areas of Budgam district following Friday prayers.
Reports said that clashes broke out at Batpora-Kanihama during the afternoon in which half a dozen people sustained injuries, out of whom one person was referred to Srinagar.
At Manzahama, four people sustained rubber bullet injuries while five people were injured at Ompora during the clashes. They were rushed to SDH Magam and other health facilities of Budgam.
For the second consecutive day, people offered in-absentia funerals to the two Pakistani soldiers killed by Indian forces along the Line of Control on Thursday.
Witnesses said that soon after Friday prayers, people assembled at Srinagar’s Barzulla area and offered prayers for the slain soldiers. On Thursday, people offered funeral prayers in Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid.
At Palhallan, score of people offered funeral prayers to the soldier and raised pro-Pakistan, pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
The government did not allow Friday prayers in Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid for the 12th consecutive Friday.
Reports from Srinagar said that pro-freedom marches were taken out from Natipora, Barzulla, Rambagh, Dalgate, Abi Guzar, Safakadal, Nawab Bazar, Telbal and Soura, after the culmination of Friday congregational prayers.
In Dalgate, a group of youth resorted to stone-pelting, forcing the police to lob a few tear-smoke shells. Stone-pelting incidents were reported from Chatabal, Bagh-e-Mehtab, Mehjoor Nagar and Nowgam.
According to a statement issued by police, the situation across the valley remained under control although stray incidents of stone-pelting were reported.
“As a precautionary measure curfew was imposed in few police stations of Srinagar today while all other areas of the valley remained curfew free,” it said.
The statement said that after Friday prayers, stray stone-pelting incidents were reported from Sopore, Bandipora and Srinagar. “Miscreants in their attempt to disturb the situation assembled on roads and pelted stones on police and security force deployments,” it said adding, “They were chased away by using ‘some force.’”
The statement said that the arrested 49 individuals “involved in different offences of disturbing the situation” in the past 24 hours.
A police official said that militants opened fire on police and CRPF in Kulgam’s Behbagh area in the afternoon.
—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmad, Bilal Habib, Gowhar Maqbool, Shiekh Anees and Kounsar Gul

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