Srinagar: A strict curfew was imposed Tuesday in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, where a youth was shot dead and four others wounded by government forces on Monday during a pro-freedom demonstration. Elsewhere in the Valley, a complete shutdown was observed in response to the call given by pro-freedom groups to protest the youth’s killing.
On Monday, Arshid Ahmad Shah, a cab driver, was shot in the chest allegedly by government forces while breaking up a pro-freedom protest in Krankshivan locality of Sopore, hours after the 18-hour gun-battle ended with the killing of LeT commander Mehmood Bhai. Four youth had also suffered injuries in what the locals had termed unprovoked firing by the forces. The killing had triggered strong protests in the town prompting the authorities to impose a strict curfew. Several pro-freedom groups including both factions of Hurriyat Conference had called for shutdown.
On Tuesday morning, a strict curfew was enforced by the personnel of Special Operations Group (SOG) of police and CRPF troopers in Sopore town. All roads leading to the town were sealed with barricades and razor wire. Many important crossing, were blocked by forces with armoured vehicles. A heavy posse of policemen and troopers were deployed at Amargarh and Seelu on the Srinagar- Sopore and Srinagar-Kupwara highways, reports said.
“After killing innocents, the forces resort to a clampdown. They have enforced strict curfew in the town. No one is being allowed to venture out of the house,” Javed Ahmad, president Industrial Estate, Sopore, told Kashmir Reader over phone.
He said the killing of Arshad was an “act of frustration” of the government forces. The forces, he said, killed him because a local militant Javed Matoo gave them a slip during the fierce encounter.
Late night reports said that violent clashes broke out at Muslim Peer, Hathi Shah and Chan Khan areas of Sopore when the forces were returning to their camps after enforcing daylong curfew. Forces fired teargas canisters after they failed to break up pro-India protests. A policeman, whose identity could not be ascertained, suffered injuries in clashes at Hathi Shah.
Earlier, hundreds of people from Naseem Bagh visited the residence of Arshid and expressed their sympathy with the bereaved families. A large number of people also visited the encounter site at Krankshivan where two residential houses and a saw mill were razed to the ground during the encounter.
“I have passed orders to the Sub-District Magistrate (SDM) Sopore and Revenue officials to assess the damages in Krankshivan. The affected families will be compensated for the losses,” Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Farooq Ahmad Lone told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in rest of the Valley in wake of the call given by pro-freedom groups.
Here in this capital city, all shops, offices, business establishments and educational institutions remained shut for the second consecutive day, while government offices and banks also recorded thin attendance, reports said. Public transport was also off the roads. However, private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were plying normally.
Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of this capital presented a deserted look in wake of the shutdown.
Reports of shutdown were received from all major towns and districts of the Valley.
A police spokesman in a statement said that situation remained peaceful throughout the Valley barring a stray incident of stone pelting at Muran Chowk, Pulwama that left an 8th standard student injured.
“Sarwar Husain Dar, of Matrigam was hit by a stone and received injury on his head when he was on way to his school. The boy has suffered depressed skull fracture as per doctor of District Hospital, Pulwama,” the police spokesman said.
He said that two more minor incidents of stone pelting were also reported from Gulshan Chowk Bandipora and Gojwara Srinagar.