Clashes continue, fiercest in south Kashmir

Four youths injured in Pulwama; locals compel police to release two arrested youth in Pampore
Srinagar: The situation remained tense on Saturday in most parts of south Kashmir where heavy restrictions were imposed by the administration to prevent people from holding protests, particularly in Pulwama, following Friday’s firing incident in which dozens of youth sustained bullet and pellet injuries while a youth from Charsoo died after being hit by pellets.
Intense clashes erupted in Kakapora, Tahab, Newa, Charsoo and Awantipora areas of Pulwama district between government forces and youth. Angry locals pelted the troops with stones and the troops retaliated with heavy teargas and pellet gun firing. Four youths are reported to have been injured.
A peaceful protest march was carried out in Ruhmoo area of Pulwama against the civilian killings. Mosques at several places resounded with pro-freedom slogans throughout the day.
In Frestbal area of Pampore town, people carried out a protest against the arrest of two youths who, police said, were responsible for the playing of pro-freedom songs in the local mosque. The residents of Frestbal protested the arrest and demanded the immediate release of the two youths. The police had to let the youths go free.
Reports said that a fruit-seller’s shop was burnt down by “unknown persons” on Friday evening in Kadlabal area of Pampore, apparently because of defying the shutdown call given jointly by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirqaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik. The fruit dealer was selling fruits outside the hospital in the town.
Several areas of Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Budgam districts remained under stringent curfew. Civilian moment was blocked by a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces. A few incidents of stone-pelting were reported from Bomai area of Sopore and Srigufwara area of Anantnag.
In Srinagar, fierce clashes erupted in Batamaloo after a protest march was carried out against the killing of 49 civilians in the Valley, including two youths in Batamaloo and adjoining Tengpora. The march was intercepted by forces near the Batamaloo bus-stand. Youths hurled stones at the troops and received teargas shells and pellets in return. Reports said that several youths sustained injuries in the clash.
While curfew remained in place in Srinagar, reports of stone-pelting incidents were received from several areas, including Reck Chowk, Karan Nagar, Chattabal and Khanyar.
A peaceful protest was carried out in Hajin area of Bandipora district by locals. Witnesses told Kashmir Reader that youths assembled at the main chowk and raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans in the protest march.
A similar protest march was carried out in Sumbal, Asham, Safapora, Naidkhai and Shahgund areas of Bandipora district on Saturday.
A police statement issued in Srinagar said: “The situation throughout the Kashmir valley remained peaceful and under control. There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley although some stray stone-pelting incidents were reported from Karan Nagar, Reck Chowk, Chanapora in Srinagar, Fatehpora in Ganderbal, Chadoora in Budgam, Bomai in Sopore, Kakapora, Tahab in Pulwama, Srigufwara in Anantnag and Padgampora Bahu in Awantipora.”
—With inputs from Bilal Habib and Gowhar Maqbool