Srinagar: Hundreds of people Friday held protests in this capital city against the continued air strikes by the Israeli military on the civilians in Palestine’s besieged Gaza strip that has left at least 100 people dead.
Hundreds of people after offering congregational Friday prayers assembled outside the historic Jamia Masjid, Nowhatta, and staged pro-Palestine and anti-Israel demonstrations, eyewitnesses said.
Chanting slogans like “Death to Israel” and “O Muslims of Palestine, we’re with you,” the people were protesting against unabated airstrikes on Palestinians. The protesters swelled in numbers as a group of youth climbed the main gate of Jamia Masjid and set Israeli flags afire.
“The Zionist terrorists are carrying out genocide of Muslims in Gaza strip. In the name of self-defence, Israel is slaughtering children and women. This is shameful, inhumane and condemnable. The Muslim nations must wake up from slumber and come to the help of their hapless brothers in Palestine,” Ghulam Hassan Khan, a former schoolteacher, told Kashmir Reader.
He said the silence of Muslim leaders was encouraging Israel to continue the massacre of Palestinians without any fear. He said the Muslim leadership must unite and give a befitting reply to the Zionists.
“Arrogant Israel will cease to exist if the Muslim nations resolve their difference and get united. The Muslims are being divided and exploited by West for their personal interests. When will Muslims understand this?” he added.
Minutes after the protests concluded, cops reportedly fired shots in the air after their vehicle was attacked by some youth in Nowhatta Chowk. The firing triggered panic among the people and forced them to run for their safety.
Meanwhile, violent clashes also erupted in Saraf Kadal locality of the downtown, when groups of youth emerged from the lanes of the western side of the Jamia Masjid and staged pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. Besides chanting slogans, the protesting youth also pelted stones on policemen.
“The cops, who were deployed in advance, returned the stones triggering pitched battles. However, the defiant protesters continued attacking them from the congested lanes and by lanes. Later, cops burst teargas canisters to disperse the stone pelting youth,” Mohammad Umar, a jeweller, told Kashmir Reader.
He said two people suffered minor injuries in the clashes that continued for over an hour prompting the traders to down their shutters. He said movement of vehicles was also hit due to outbreak of clashes
Clashes also broke out in uptown Maisuma, after police prevented Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) activists from organizing a sit-in against the closure of UNMOGIP office in New Delhi and “growing Indian and Israeli aggression,” at the historic Lal Chowk. JKLF chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik, who had announced the sit-in protest, was rounded up from his house early Friday.
Reports said that scores of JKLF activists after Friday prayers took out a rally from Maisuma and tried to march towards the city centre to stage a sit-in. Chanting pro-Palestine and anti-Israel slogans, the protesters were interacted by police near the Akhara building.
“The protesters tried to break the police cordon in order to march ahead. However, the cops used pellet guns to disperse the agitated protesters. In retaliation, protesters hurled stones at the cops triggering ding-ding clashes,” the eyewitnesses said.
A cop and a civilian identified as Muhammad Basit suffered minor injuries in the clashes. Many JKLF supporters were also detained by police.
Anti-Israel protest was also held by the leaders of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat faction at Abi Guzar here.
Hurriyat leader Javed Ahmad Mir and others who were joined by their supporters took out a peaceful march denouncing the continued air strikes by Israeli on Gaza. They also set ablaze Israeli flags to give vent to their anger.
“The continued assault on civilian population in Gaza is naked aggression of Israel. All Muslims must get united and raise their voice against the blood bath of innocent Palestinians,” Mir told Kashmir Reader.
Reports of anti-Israel protests were also received from twin districts of Anantnag and Shopian in south Kashmir