Srinagar: The unified resistance group’s proposed march to Hazratbal shrine to offer joint congregational prayers was thwarted by police and troopers on Friday by using massive force against the protesters in every nook and corner of Valley.
Three persons were shot dead and more than 300 others injured in yet another massive responses to protests that have marked the situation since July 8 when Hizb commander Burhan Wani was killed.
The authorities did not allow Friday prayers at Hazratbal shrine where heavy deployment of police and paramilitaries prevented assembly of people. It is a rare occasion when Friday prayers were not held at Hazratbal during the past 27 years. Due to strict curfew in old Srinagar, the congregational prayers were not held at Jamia masjid for the fourth consecutive Friday.
The first fatal casualty occurred at Nagam in Chadoora pocket of central district Budgam. Sources said that government forces fired automatic weapons to quell a peaceful protest held in the area after the culmination of Friday prayers. A bullet hit Muhammad Maqbool Wagay in his chest. He was immediately shifted to primary health center Nagam where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Hundreds of people came out on streets after Wagay’s death. Sources said that police and paramilitaries used excessive force to chase away protesters. Dozens of protesters were wounded in the police action.
The government forces also opened fire at Bypass Bridge in north Kashmir’s Sopore area. A youngster Danish Rasool, a resident of Munligam Wagoora, was killed in the firing. Sources said that Rasool was immediately shifted to sub-district hospital Sopore where he succumbed to his wounds. Our correspondent said that at least a hundred civilians were wounded in police action that began shortly after the locals began peaceful protest demonstrations against the recent killings in Kashmir.
In central Kashmir’s Beerwah area, clashes erupted soon after the culmination of Friday prayers when thousands of locals staged anti-India demonstrations. The government forces came down heavily on the protesters using pellet guns and firing automatic weapons. During the firing, 29-year-old Sameer Ahmad Wani, a resident of Malnoor village in Khansahib area, sustained bullet injury. He was immediately shifted to Srinagar where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Wani’s death triggered protests at SMHS hospital where his funeral prayers were offered. The government forces fired scores of teargas canisters outside the hospital. Many patients suffered breathlessness.
At least 25 injured were referred to Srinagar for treatment, out of which two persons have received bullets while six others have been hit by pellets in their eyes.
“It is like a war zone. Ambulances have been called from all hospitals and dispensaries in the vicinity to escort wounded people to Srinagar,” said a local resident Bashir Ahmad.
The government forces used force at Bomai, Industrial Estates, Amargarh, Brath Kalan, Warpora and Bypass areas.
Earlier, a huge protest rally was taken out from the Jamia Masjid of Sopore and New Colony Bade Masjid in which thousands of people led the procession and walked towards Sopore – Srinagar highway. Locals said this was the biggest rally in the area since 2010.
Massive protests also erupted at several places in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. The major procession started from Jamia Masjid, in which thousands of people including women, children and elders marched through the streets chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Women sang songs eulogizing Hizb commander Burhan Wani. Another procession was reported from Papchan to Gulshan Chowk. The protesters held a sit-in at the fountain in the middle of the chowk. The locals alleged that the police were conducting nocturnal raids to arrest youngsters.
At Papchan, a youth Sajad Ahmad was injured critically when he was hit with pellets. His eyes have been damaged with pellets. Block Medical officer said that Ahmad was shifted to Srinagar for treatment. Another youngster Suhail Ahmad was critically injured at Ajar. He was hit with a tear shell in the chest. Several protesters were also injured in the clashes at Hajin, Matrigam, Pazalpora and Pethakoot villages.
The injured were even chased to Bandipora hospital where police fired fires tear smoke shells and beat up hospital staff and attendants of then indoor patients.
In south Kashmir’s Pampore town, massive protsts were held after the midday prayers. The locals painted Srinagar-Jammu highway and vantage points with azaadi slogans and graffiti. A candle light march was also held in the town.
In capital Srinagar, people defied curfew and strict restrictions to hold protest demonstrations. Hundreds of protesters tried to march towards Hazratbal shrine but the police and paramilitaries deployed in strength prevented the protesters to proceed.
At Lal Bazar, a peaceful procession of over 1000 people was stopped by forces at main chowk where forces resorted to teargas shelling resulting in minor injuries to three persons. Reports said the rally was led by Awami Action Committee and joined by leaders and activists of Hurriyat (G), Hurriyat (M), JKLF and other pro-freedom parties.
People from three mohallas of Lal Bazar had offered Friday congregation at a local park where from they started to march towards Dargah Hazratbal.
At Shah Mohalla, Awantabawan, Soura, a local Imam, Arsalan Ahmad, was detained after he led a protest rally following which announcement was made on loudspeakers of mosques to come out to protest against the Imam’s detention. The people came out on roads and surrounded the government forces who had overpowered the Imam and held him in custody. The agitators refused to relent until the Imam was released.
Similar rally was also taken out at Malla Bagh which was foiled by the government forces. A rally was taken out in Rainawari but the forces stopped the protesters. This led to minor clashes in the area.
In central Kashmir’s Narbal area, residents of Chorapora, Gotapora, Arth, Sozeth, Chattabukh, and Kausar gathered at the main chowk and began anti-India protests. This triggered massive clashes. The government forces fired teargas shells on the protesters resulting into injuries to seven persons. Locals alleged that the injured while being escorted to hospital were beaten up by the government forces at Daharmuna.
The clashes between youth and forces were going on in Harvan, Shalimar, Chattabal, and Eidgah areas. Sources said that dozens of protesters were injured in the clashes.
In Baramulla, massive protests were held in several areas triggering clashes between protesters and government forces. At least 45 persons sustained injuries in Zirhama village of Kupwara after government forces resorted to heavy ammunition firing. Four injured persons have been referred to Srinagar. At Rigipora Chowk, four persons sustained injurie while a dozen protesters were injured at Kalaroos. The government forces also fired teargas shells to chase away protesters at Drugmulla, Lolab where at least 15 persons were injured. As many as 16 protesters sustained injuries at Gannapora Qaziabad of Handwara town.
Reports of clashes also poured in from Tangmarg, Kunzar, Ushkura, Sheeri, Tehlipora, Zahampora, Bonyar, Nowshera, Chandanwadi, Gingel, Uri and Gantmulla areas. Sources said that the government forces fired rubber bullets at Sheeri injuring at least four demonstrators.
In south Kashmir, thousands of people paid tributes to martyrs at Pampore. At least, four persons were injured when government forces chased away protesters at Tral. In Shopian, clashes broke out at Narwa, Memender and several other villages. At least 20 protesters were injured in the clashes, many of them with pellet injuries were referred to Srinagar for treatment. Reports of protests also came in from Pinjoora, Pricho, Ruhmoo, Mitregam and Gusoo villages of Pulwama.
A massive peaceful march in Natipora was dispersed by firing several teargas canisters and pellet cartridges. A youth sustained teargas shell injury in the neck and another pellet wounds.
In Anantnag, protest rallies were held at Belgam and Mattan areas while massive public rallies were held in Damhal Hanjipora, Kounsarbal, Waripora and Kulgam town in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
Reshi News agency reported that thousands of people gathered in Soofshali area of Kokernag and pledged to offer any sacrifice for the “ongoing freedom movement in Kashmir.”
A senior doctor at Bones and Joints Surgery hospital Barzalla told Kashmir Reader that 20 injured persons have been admitted to the hospital, two of them with bullet injuries.
About the intensity of government forces’ response to protests, a Facebook user wrote:
“You are talking about city. They (government forces) don’t even spare gaam (village). They shelled my village Drussu in Pulwama district. My parents said it is almost impossible to even breathe. We have a couple of weeks old baby at home. My sister was blessed with a baby boy. Alhamdulillah. My family is finding it hard to protect the young soul from ill effects of tear gas. They shut all the doors and windows but it doesn’t help much.”
Due to communication blockade and shortage of resources, Kashmir Reader could not cover the situation fully as there are reports of protests, clashes and injuries from other areas also.