Srinagar: At least four policemen, including an officer, were among 10 people injured Friday in violent clashes, as thousands of people protested across the Kashmir Valley on Jumat-ul-Vida (last Friday of Ramadan) that is observed as ‘Youm-e-Quds’ to express solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians.
After offering Friday prayers, people staged protests in major towns and districts of the Valley denouncing the Israeli aggression in the besieged Gaza strip, eyewitnesses said.
The protesters carrying placards and banners expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and denounced the continued airstrikes on the civilian population of Gaza. At many places, Israeli and US flags were torched by angry protesters.
The biggest anti-Zionist demonstration was witnessed at the historic Jamia Masjid in the downtown Srinagar, where approximately one lakh people offered congregational Friday prayers. After prayers, hundreds of people, mostly youth, took out a pro-Palestine and anti-Israel rally. Chanting pro-freedom slogans for Palestine and Kashmir, when the protesters reached Khwaja Bazaar, a heavy posse of CRPF and policemen intercepted them.
“Angry youth hurled rocks and stones on the forces while attempting to march ahead. The forces burst teargas canisters to thwart their move. This led to intense clashes in the area. Khwaja Bazaar was turned into a battle ground by the protesters and the forces,” Tariq Ahmad Zargar, an eyewitness, told Kashmir Reader.
The forces , used pellet guns after failing to disperse the youth, who were hurling stones at them from narrow lanes and by lanes of Khwaja Bazaar. “The clashes also affected the movement of transport. Many traders downed their shutters and moved towards safer places fearing escalation in clashes,” Zargar said.
A policeman identified as Constable Abdul Hamid (belt no 4541) was injured after being hit by a stone at Khwaja Bazaar.
A peaceful pro-Palestine rally that was taken out from the Imam Bara, Hassanabad also turned violent near Saida Kadal. The forces burst teargas canisters and fired from pellet guns after failing to disperse the stone pelting youth. At least three youth suffered injuries in the clashes that also spread to the neighbouring Dharamshalla locality.
Pro-Palestine and anti-Israel rallies on the ‘Youm-e-Quds’ were also held at Abi Guzar, in the heart of this capital city. However, the protesters chanting slogans “Death to America,” “Death to Israel” dispersed peacefully after setting the Israeli and US flags on fire.
In Tral town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, a senior police officer was among six people injured in violent clashes. In-charge SHO, Tral, Sub Inspector Nazir Ahmad, and Constable Mohammad Rafiq and Satpal Singh were injured when groups of youth pelted stones at them during a pro-Palestine rally at Bus Stand Tral. A civilian identified as Manzoor Ahmed Mir was also injured during the clashes. He was shifted to Bone and Joint Hospital, Barzulla for treatment.
“Forces used batons and fired teargas canisters to break up pro-Palestine protests. However, the youth continued renewed attacks on the forces. The clashes continued for several hours,” eyewitnesses said.
Protests against Israel aggression were also held at Murran Chowk of the district. Hundreds of people took out a peaceful rally to express their solidarity with the Palestinian families, who have lost their loved ones to the Israeli aggression.
Reports of pro-Palestine rallies have also been received from the neighbouring Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag districts of south Kashmir. At many places, Israeli and US flags were burnt by protesters to vent their anger.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, hundreds of people, after offering congregational Friday prayers at the Bait-ul-Mukaram staged anti-Israel protests. Earlier, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani addressed the people over phone.
Pro-Palestine protests were also held at Sopore town.
Reports of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestine protests have also been received from parts of Budgam and Ganderbal districts of central Kashmir.