Srinagar: At least ten people were injured Thursday in clashes in Kashmir, even as a complete shutdown was observed across the Valley in response to the call given by Hurriyat Conference (G) against the ongoing Israeli aggression in Palestine, where over 200 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in relentless airstrikes, and to mourn the death of seven civilians in an accident involving an army vehicle on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday.
All shops, offices, business establishments, colleges and petrol pumps remained closed in this summer capital of the state while public transport was off the roads in view of the strike, reports and eyewitnesses said.
The shutdown also affected work in government offices and banks, where thin attendance was recorded.
The historic Lal Chowk, commercial hub of this capital city, and its adjacent areas wore a deserted look due to the shutdown. A posse of CRPF and policemen armed with sophisticated weapons and riot gear guarded the deserted streets, lanes and by lanes of the uptown to foil any attempt of the people to stage anti-Zionist demonstrations.
Tight security arrangements were also made in downtown city, where cops had erected barricades to restrict the movement of people. However, despite stringent security measures, hundreds of youth converged at the historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta and staged pro-Palestine demonstrations. Chanting pro-Gaza, pro-Hamas and anti-Zionist slogans, the protesters also burnt Israeli flags, reports said.
Later, groups of youth emerged from the lanes and by lanes of Saraf Kadal and Rajouri Kadal and clashed with the paramilitary troopers and policemen that were deployed in advance. However, no one was injured in the clashes that continued for some time.
Clashes were also reported from Nawab Bazaar, Habba Kadal and Kak Sarai area of downtown. At Kak Sarai, a youth identified as Muhammad Umar of Tangmarg was reportedly detained during clashes. At Nawab Bazaar, residents said forces barged into the houses and thrashed the inmates. The forces also beat up two youth identified as Aqib and Sarwar. Aqib is said to be nephew of ruling National Conference general secretary and senior minister Ali Mohammad Sagar.
Amidst a complete shutdown, clashes were also reported from the three northern Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara.
Early morning, scores of youth assembled on the Khanpora Bridge in Old Town Baramulla and held pro-Palestine and anti-Israel demonstrations, eyewitnesses said. Chanting slogans in favour of Gaza, the protesters tried to march towards the civil lines. However, the CRPF and policemen deployed in advance intercepted them. This led to clashes.
“After Khanpora, the youth regrouped at Cement Bridge and clashed with the forces. The forces burst teargas canisters to disperse stone throwing youth. The clashes continued for several hours leaving two people wounded. Both of them were treated at Old Town hospitals,” Muneer Ahmad, an eyewitness, said.
Anti-Israel protests were also held in Delina, where groups of youth took to streets and fought pitched battles with the forces. The forces fired teargas canisters after failing to disperse stone pelting youth with batons
Clashes during pro-Palestine demonstration were also received from Main Chowk and Baba Yusuf localities of Sopore town of Baramulla district.
At least two people were injured in the clashes that broke out in the restive Palhallan town after a youth was arrested by police, eyewitnesses said. Scores of youth converged at Main Chowk, Palhallan and staged demonstrations after Tauseef Ahmad Malla was arrested. Chanting slogans, the protesters pelted heavily upon troopers and police with bricks and rocks.
“The forces burst numerous teargas canisters to disperse the protesters. However, the defiant youth regrouped and continued renewed assaults on the forces. The clashes intensified when two youth suffered injuries in the clashes,” Mohammad Asif of Tantraypora told Kashmir Reader.
He said one of the youth was hit by a teargas shell in chest. The forces, he said, fired warning shots to scare the angry protesters.
The injured youth identified as Iqbal Mohi-ud-din was removed to the Sumbal hospital for treatment. However, the doctors there referred him to SKIMS Srinagar for specialized treatment. The condition of the injured youth is said to be stable.
Two people were injured in Kupwara district when youth engaged the forces in ding-dong battles near the general bus stand. Many vehicles also suffered damaged in the clashes.
In the neighbouring Bandipora district, four youth suffered pellet injuries during clashes between pro-Palestine protesters and the government forces in Papchan. Two of the youth identified as Adil Farooq and Muntazir Khan were removed to Srinagar hospital for treatment.
Violent protests amidst a complete shutdown were also received from several parts of south Kashmir.
Scores of people after zuhr prayers assembled outside the shrine of Reshi Sahib in the Main Town, Anantnag and took out a pro-Palestine procession, eyewitnesses said. Carrying placards and banners, the protesters were shouting anti-Israel, anti-India and pro-Palestine and pro-Kashmir slogans. When the procession reached Lal Chowk, police intercepted it.
“This led to the heated exchange of words between the two sides. Angry youth pelted stones on the CRPF and policemen triggering clashes. The clashes soon spread to several parts of the town including Mattan Chowk, Cheeni Chowk, Kadipora and Reshi Bazar. Many youth were arrested,” they said.
Eyewitnesses said that the Division Officer, Sherbagh Police Post, Muhammad Yousuf misbehaved with the journalists, who were covering the anti-Israel protests. He also allegedly thrashed a photojournalist.
In Pampore town of the neighbouring Pulwama district, hundreds of people, mostly youth took out a pro-Palestine rally from Namblabal. Carrying Pakistani and Palestinian flags, the marchers passed through Frestbal along the Srinagar-Jammu highway before dispersing at Khan Kahi Mohalla peacefully. The rally was also addressed by the house locked Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani.
Earlier, clashes broke out between youth and government forces in Rajpora area of the district. The pitched battles continued for nearly an hour. However, no one was hurt. Anti-Israel protests also erupted in sensitive Tral town of the district.—With Mushtaq Ahmed in Baramulla and Shafat Mir in Anantnag