Baramulla/Srinagar: Army shot dead a teenager in Natnusa area of Kupwara district on Friday, day after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti asked government forces that civilians should not be harmed while handling law and order situations.
Arif Hussain Dar of Awoora (Trehgam), 18, was killed in Natnusa during a protest against the killing of four persons during the past four days by government forces.
Scores of people had on Tuesday attacked an army bunker in Handwara town, saying they had seen a soldier molesting a schoolgirl in a public toilet that is stone’s throw away from the bunker. Army fired at the protesting crowd, killing students Nayeem Bhat, 22, and Iqbal Farooq, 22. Fifty-six-year-old Raja Begum had been shot dead in her field at some distance from the bunker.
Next day, government forces fired at a demonstration in Drugmulla, Kupwara, about 40km from Handwara, killing Jahangir Wani, 24, a labourer.
On Thursday, amid curfew and ban on internet services in various parts of the Valley, people demonstrated and clashed with government forces against these killings. During one such demonstration in Natnusa, which government forces tried to put down with force, army fired at the protesters, killing class 11 student Arif Hussain Dar and critically injuring three others—Javaid Ahmad, Wajid Ahmad and Fazil Lone.
Chief Medical Officer of Kupwara district hospital Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone told Kashmir Reader that Arif had multiple bullets injuries.
Fazil has been shifted to Bone and Joint Hospital. Javaid has bullet injury in hip and left arm, while Wajid has bullet injuries in both legs. Both were awaiting surgery at the SMHS Hospital. Medical superintendent of SMHS Hospital Dr Nazir Choudhary told Kashmir Reader that the trio is stable.
Recounting the incident, Wajid told Kashmir Reader at the hospital: “We were heading towards the martyrs home who were killed few days ago to offer prayers when army opened fire indiscriminately at us.”
Principal government medical college Dr Qaiser Ahmad said another injured youth was brought to the hospital in the evening.
“He has injuries in head and legs. He is stable,” he added.
PRO Defence Lt Col NN Joshi said the army exercised maximum restraint in spite of stone throwing by large crowd. “Only when the mob stormed the army post, it was forced to open controlled fire in which some miscreants were injured,” he said. A police spokesman said the “mob tried to enter the forces camp and the army had to resort to firing in which one person lost his life.”
Throughout the day, anti-India and pro-freedom demonstrations were held in various parts of the Valley. Although no resistance group had called for a strike, but only asked people to stage protests, government had imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of Srinagar and many areas of Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts.
Despite heavy deployment of police and paramilitary troopers, protests were held in scores of areas in north Kashmir.
In Haril, Kupwara, government forces opened fire to disperse the protesters. Eyewitness said the forces vandalized a mosque in the area.
In the evening, about 100 chickens were suffocated to death in Bhat Mohalla, Kupwara, when a teargas shell exploded inside a shop in Handwara town.
“All died due to suffocation from teargas,” owner Mushtaq Ahmad Rather told Kashmir Reader.
Government forces fired teargas canisters inside a tent at the residence of Nayim Ahmad Bhat in Handwara and vandalized Abu Bakr mosque in the locality, residents told Kashmir Reader on phone.
After Friday prayers, protesters clashed with government forces in various parts of old Srinagar and Natipora. Four youngsters were detained in Natipora by the police.
Thousands protest in Kangan
Thousands of people participated in anti-India protests in Kangan town of Ganderbal district after the Friday prayers against the ongoing killing spree in Kupwara.
The protesters emerged from the Jamia Masjid and marched towards the main street. They were shouting slogans against the PDP-BJP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir. The protesters shouted pro-Pakistan slogans when vehicles of the government forces passed by. A contingent of police was deployed in the town to oversee the situation.
The demonstration morphed into clashes between protesters and government forces who tried to stop the peaceful procession. As many as 11 people were detained by the police. Dr Tahir Ahmad Malik, superintendent trauma hospital Kangan told Kashmir Reader that seven policemen were injured in the clashes, one of them, Bashir Ahmad, was referred to SKIMS.
Earlier, during the Friday sermon, a religious leader came down heavily on the government agencies for unleashing a reign of terror in Kashmir Valley by killing youngsters and teenagers. “The government of India is testing our patience. The situation will explode. The people are ready to sacrifice their lives for the dignity and honour,” he said.
The entire Ganderbal district observed a complete shutdown against the Kupwara killings. All shops and business establishments were closed and traffic was scarce on the roads.
Protests were also held in Ganderbal town.
JKLF, KTF hold protests
Despite police restrictions, members of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and activists of Kashmir Tehreek-e-Khawateen (KTK) demonstrated against the killing of civilians in Kupwara district by government forces.
After Friday prayers, dozens of JKLF members, shouting pro-freedom slogans, and tried to march towards city center Lal Chowk but were stopped at Abi Guzar. About a dozen activists including Mushtaq Ajmal, Sheikh Abdul Rashid and Siraj u Din Mir (Dawood) were bundled in police vehicles and taken to Kothibagh police station.
Activists of KTK, a constituent of Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference, also demonstrated at Abi Guzar. The march was led by KTK chairperson Zamrooda Habib.
“India is killing Kashmiri people to crush their freedom sentiment but the morale of Kashmiri people is very high and they would take their freedom movement to its logical conclusion,” Habib said.
—With inputs from Junaid Bazaz / Javid Ali