- Huge funeral for Hizb duo, youth injured in protests; clashes reported from many areas in Valley; all pro-freedom leaders detained or under house arrest
Srinagar/Anantnag: Amidst a spontaneous shutdown to pay tribute to two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants killed in a gunfight in south Kashmir’s Shopian on Thursday, thousands of people on Friday participated in the funeral prayers of the duo.
Arif Ahmad Khanday and Irshad Ahmad Ganai, two close aides of Hizb’s young commander Burhan Wani, were killed in Manzimpora village in a brief encounter with the army and Special Operations Group of police last evening.
Chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the mourners buried the two in their ancestral graveyards. Early in the morning, people from across the district and other places arrived at the residences of the duo to participate in their Nimaz-e-Jinaza. Their bodies were carried to the graveyards in the form of huge processions, amidst slogans.
After the burial, clashes erupted between youths and government forces after the former pelted stones on a SOG camp. The forces responded with tear gas shells, resulting in injuries to a youth. However, a police official claimed the youth was injured after he picked up an unexploded tears gas shell. “Police fired only two shells, one of which did not explode. A youth rushed in and picked it up. But as soon as he touched the shell it went off, resulting in burn injuries on his hand,” he said. The youth was later moved to district hospital Anantnag from where he was shifted to a Srinagar hospital.
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in the district with all shops, business establishments and educational institutions remaining shut to pay homage to the slain militants. Traffic was also off the roads in the entire district. Also, reports said clashes had erupted in Mattan, Achabal, Tral and Qazigund areas. A protest rally was taken out in Dadsara, Tral, which ended peacefully. Protesters also attacked a CRPF camp at Ladiyar, Tral, resulting in clashes. The CRPF fired tear gas shells to disperse the protestors, but the protests continued for hours.
In Srinagar, strict restrictions were imposed in the old city and Maisuma areas to thwart protests against the detention of pro-freedom leaders, while Friday prayers were not allowed at the historic Jamia Masjid. The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had invited Syed Ali Geelani and JKLF Chief Yasin Malik for a joint peaceful sit-in after Friday prayers against the murder of Kashmiri trucker Zahid Rasool, the crackdown on Kashmir’s resistance leadership, apart from the attacks on Muslims by fanatics in India. All the pro-freedom leaders were either detained or put under house arrest.
Loops of concertina wire and barricades were laid across roads leading to the old city. Soon after Friday prayers, clashes broke out in Habba Kadal and other areas, while representatives of the Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani held a protest outside Iqra Masjid in Sarai Bala. Three youths were reportedly arrested in Habba Kadal.
In north Kashmir, clashes erupted in Sopore and Palhalan areas after Friday prayers against Zahid’s killing. A rally was taken out near Jamia Masjid Sopore and people marched towards the main chowk, shouting anti-India and pro-azadi slogans. As the protesters reached the chowk, government forces did not allow them to proceed, and clashes subsequently broke out.
Clashes were also reported from Palhalan, Pattan, as people tried to block the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway. Government forces used tear gas to disperse the protestors.
Reports from Kupwara and Kralpora said a large number of people staged a protest and tried to take out a march, but were prevented from doing so by the police, who used tear gas shells.
In Hajin area of Bandipora, protesters unfurled a Pakistani flag while shouting anti-India slogans. Reports from the main town of Baramulla said that dozens of youths, after Friday prayers, took to the streets and hurled stones at the police station.
Reports from Uri in Baramulla district said a complete strike was observed in the town.
—With inputs from Shabir Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad and Gowhar Maqbool