Srinagar: Eleven persons sustained injuries in fresh clashes at various places in North Kashmir as major towns of Bandipora and parts of Srinagar remained under curfew for the second consecutive day Sunday. The valley is on the edge over killing of a bandipora youth by the forces last week.
Eighteen-year-old Farhat Ahmad Dar, son of Ghulam Rasool Dar, of Shah Gund, Hajin was shot in the chest by the forces near the Higher Secondary School Naidkhai during protests over alleged excesses by the forces.
A class 12 student, Farhat succumbed to his injuries on way to the Public Health Centre (PHC) Pattan. His death intensified protests in the area leaving at least seven people injured. The district authorities announced a probe and assured strict action against the guilty.
Early Sunday morning, Hajin, Naidkhai, Sumbal, Saderkoot and other parts of the district were placed under curfew. The police warned people of strict for defying the restrictions. Hundreds of troopers and policemen were deployed on sensitive spots of the district. Wearing riot gear and carrying assault rifles, the forces enforced strict curfew in the area and restrained people from venturing out of their houses.
However, scores of youth took to streets and staged anti-India protests at Hajin when troopers and cops allegedly went on rampage damaging window panes of residential houses and smashing the windscreens of the parked vehicles in Banger Mohalla, Tilwani Mohalla, WahabParray Mohalla, Khosa Mohalla, Naid Mohalla, Khankah, and Main Chowk using catapults.
“We were asleep when forces went berserk without any reason. Hundreds of window panes of residential houses were smashed by the forces using catapults. They even broke down the windscreens of parked cars,” Mansoor Parray, a local told Kashmir Reader.
The police action, he said, angered the youth, who came out of their houses and staged pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. He said the forces used batons and lobbed teargas canisters to disperse the protesting youth.
“However, the youth didn’t relent. They fought pitched battles with the forces throughout the day. In frustration, the forces damaged more property after failing to chase away the youth. Four boys suffered injuries in the clashes. Two of them were hit my marbles on eyes,” Parray added.
Manzoor Ahmad, another resident said that after breaking the glasses, the forces carried away the window panes of four residential houses belonging to Mohammad Maqbool Parray, Ghulam Mohammad Chaprasi, Basheer Ahmad Malla, and Sanaullah Shah. The erring forces, he said, also smashed the front windscreen of a car belonging to Javed Ahmed Parray, a bank employee.
“They (forces) didn’t even spare the electricity line and TV cable. They even fired teargas shells inside residential houses,” he said, adding “Even the window panes and doors of Masjids were damaged. First they kill innocents in cold blood and then unleash reign of terror to muzzle the voice of people,”
Protests also erupted in main town Bandipore this morning. Eyewitnesses said that groups of youth appeared at Gulshan Chowk and staged strong pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. Besides chanting slogans, the protesters pelted rocks and stones on the troopers and policemen that were deployed in advance. The forces lobbed several teargas canisters after failing to disperse the stone pelting youth with batons. The clashes turned the otherwise busy Gulshan Chowk into a battleground. At least two people, eyewitnesses said, suffered injuries in the clashes.
In Naidkhai, a man identified as Mohammad Maqbool was injured after being beaten by the forces during protests.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Bandipora, Dr Shah Faisal told Kashmir Reader that he has received complaints from Hajin residents alleging highhandedness by the forces. He said the restrictions might continue Monday, even as the situation in the district remained overall peaceful.
“There had been some problem when the forces were withdrawing from the area.Tomorrow, I’ll go to Hajin along with the SP to assess the situation,” he said.
When asked about the status of the probe ordered into the teenager’s killing, Faisal said that in a few days the duty magistrate will visit Naidkhai to record the statement of witnesses.
“At the moment, restoring normalcy remains our priority,” he added.
Violent protests were also reported from Main Town and Palhallan in the neighbouring Baramulla district, where restrictions were imposed to scuttle protests.
Reports said groups of youth from Old Town tried to march towards civil lines. However, the forces had blocked four of the five vital bridges—Cement Bridge, Azad Gunj Bridge, Khanpora Bridge and SRTC foot Bridges— in the wee hours Saturday to prevent them from staging protests.
“This angered the youth who pelted stones and rocks at the deployments near Khanpora and Cement Bridges. In retaliation, the forces burst teargas canisters to disperse them. The ding-dong battles left at least two youth injured,” Muzaffar Ahmad, an eyewitness said.
Two people suffered minor injuries in the clashes that broke out in Palhallan town.
Reports from the Kupwara district said that scores of people shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans clashed with the forces in Lalpora Lolab. Forces resorted to baton charge and lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters. No one was hurt in the clashes.
In Srinagar normal life as affected for the second day due to restrictions imposed by the authorities in wake of the Naidkhai teenager’s killing. Curbs continue on the civilian movement in Nowhatta, Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Kawdara, Maharaj Gunj, Safa Kadal, Rainawari and other areas of the old city.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman in a handout said the situation remained peaceful throughout the Valley barring a few stray stone pelting incidents in Hajin and Main Chowk Bandipora, Barsoo in Ganderbal district and Azad Gunj in Baramulla district.
“However, there were no reports of injury to anyone, till last reports came in,” the handout read.
—With Mushtaq Ahmad in Baramulla and Azim Jan in Bandipora.