Srinagar: Gunshots were fired at police in Sopore main Chowk on Friday afternoon as intense clashes erupted between youth and paramilitary forces on the day being observed as Youm-e- Kashmir (Kashmir Day). Clashes with police also occurred in other parts of the valley as people responded to the call given by senior pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Geelani to observe June 24 as Youm-e- Kashmir.
In Nowhatta, masked youth held in-absentia funeral prayers for militants killed in Kupwara in the past two days. A rally was taken out after Friday congregational prayers from the historic Jamia Masjid in which youth carrying Pakistan and ISIS flags were seen and heard shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Police thwarted the rally and fired teargas shells and pellets at unarmed youth to disperse the protesters. Several young men were injured. Witnesses said many youth were hit on the face and were seen bleeding as pellets struck their upper body parts.
Protests by women under the leadership of Zamrooda Habib were held by Khwateen Tehreek Markaz at city centre Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
At Sopore, people held protest demonstrations at the main chowk and a rally was taken out by youth shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans from the Jamia Masjid to main Chowk. As soon as the rally reached main Chowk, clashes erupted between protestors and paramilitary forces. Police fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters. As the fighting intensified, shopkeepers downed their shutters and the traffic was disrupted.
While this was going on, some persons came out from one of the lanes and opened fire from guns at the police. Sopore Superintendent of Police Harmeet Singh told Kashmir Reader on phone that while police were trying to control the stone-pelting, some unidentified men fired at the policemen. “As civilians were around, we didn’t retaliate,” he said. No reports of any injury have come in yet. Stone-pelting was still going on in Sopore and police had launched a search operation to nab the attackers.
In Anantnag, intense clashes erupted in Reshi bazaar and Sher Bagh area of the old town. The clashes spread to Cheeni Chowk and Mattan Adda areas of the district after Friday prayers. Police resorted to heavy teargas shelling to disperse the protesters near the maternity and childcare hospital, which caused suffocation to the patients there.