Srinagar: Government troops confronted angry crowds and were pelted with stones in several areas of Kashmir on Friday, even as police put under house detention Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to prevent him from leading protests outside the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. Reports said that police arrested four youths during clashes in Srinagar’s Nowhatta area, Kupwara’s Kralpora area, and in old town Sopore.
Soon after the Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta, a group of youth gathered outside the mosque and raised pro-freedom, anti-India slogans. The youth threw stones at the government troops deployed outside the mosque and eyewitnesses said that the government troops fired teargas shells at them. Street clashes continued for hours and disrupted traffic movement in the area.
“Police also detained a youth during the clashes. He was taken to the local police station,” said an eyewitness.
At Lal Chowk, the pro-freedom leadership held a protest demonstration against the “illegal incarceration” of Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi and other pro-freedom leaders. Several leaders and activists gathered at Lal Chowk after Friday prayers with placards that demanded the release of Asiya Andrabi and other political prisoners. They took out a peaceful protest march from Maisuma to Budshah Chowk, where they held a sit-in protest. Addressing the gathering at Budshah Chowk, speakers alleged that India was waging a war against Kashmiris.
Speakers expressed concern over the deteriorating health of Andrabi and her aide Sofi Fahmeeda, and castigated the authorities for prolonging their detention. They strongly condemned the arrest of JKLF district president Kulgam Abdul Sattar and JKLF secretary Nazir Ahmad, who after his arrest has been shifted to district jail Islamabad.
The speakers appealed to international human rights bodies to take notice of the oppression and atrocities committed against Kashmiris.
Clashes broke out in Kralpora area of Kupwara on Friday morning when a large number of students took to the streets in protest against the excesses of government troops. The students marched to the main market of Kralpora where they hurled stones and rocks at government troops. The troops used baton-charge to disperse them, but clashes continued for hours and led to closure of shops in the market. Reports said that at least two students were arrested by police. The situation was still tense when last reports came in.
Minor clashes were reported at old town Sopore in Baramulla district, where protesters threw stones at government troops outside the Jamia Masjid soon after Friday congregational prayers. The troops retaliated by firing teargas shells at the protestors.
One of the youth arrested during the clashes at Sopore was identified as Mohammad Ibrahim, resident of Ningli Sopore.
Clashes also broke out in Hajin town of Bandipora district. Witnesses said that hundreds of youth assembled near the Jamia Masjid in Hajin after Friday prayers and shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. The youth took out a protest march from Jamia Masjid and on the way hurled stones at the government troops deployed near the government middle school Hajin. The troops fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters, causing further clashes in the area. The clashes were still going on when last reports came in.
Intense clashes broke out between government forces and local youth after congregational prayers in Pulwama town. Witnesses said that hundreds of people took out a protest march from the Markazi Jamia Masjid after the Friday prayers, raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. When the protesters reached near the police station, youth who were part of the protest threw stones at police and CRPF troops deployed there. The troops responded with teargas shelling but the clashes soon spread to other localities, causing a shutdown in the town. Locals complained that the troops lobbed numerous PAVA shells, causing suffocation and nausea to many shopkeepers. The clashes continued for several hours.