DEATH, DEFIANCE, ANGER: India’s independence day in Kashmir

Batamaloo teenager fatally shot with pellets; Tangmarg youth succumbs; 7 militants, CRPF officer killed in gunfights

Srinagar: A 16-year-old was killed in action by government forces at Batamaloo while another youth from Tangmarg succumbed to his injuries in hospital, taking the civilian death toll in the ongoing uprising to 60 on Monday.
10-year-old Irfan Bashir Sofi suffered grave injury in his head after a teargas canister hit him at Jablipora in Bijbhera. Dozens of protesters were injured in clashes across the Valley amid strict curfew on the 38th day of the anti-India uprising and the 70th Independence Day of India.
Reports said that government forces opened fire on protesters at Batamaloo on late Monday evening, killing Yasir Ahmad Sheikh, a student at a government school. After being hit, Yasir was shifted to SMHS hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. The killing triggered a massive protest as hundreds of youth took to streets. Police and CRPF rushed reinforcements to the area and when this report was filed, the clashes between angry protesters and government forces were going on with the latter resorting to massive teargas shelling. Twelve persons have so far been reported to be injured in the Batmaloo clashes.
Reports said that massive protests erupted in several parts of downtown Srinagar, including Saraf Kadal, Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal and adjoining areas, despite strict curfew in these areas. At least ten protesters received pellet injuries.
Medical superintendent of SMHS hospital Dr Nazir Chowdhary confirmed the death of Yasir. “As far as my information goes, he was hit by bullets,” Dr Chowdhary said. Besides Yasir, eight persons with different types of injuries were admitted to the hospital, most of them from Srinagar, he added.
Late in the evening, when deployments of police, CRPF and SSB were withdrawn, hundreds of youth took to the streets at Nowhatta, Khaniyar and adjoining areas and marched towards Nowhatta police station. Shouting pro-freedom, pro-militant and anti-India slogans, the protesters were demanding the bodies of the two militants claimed to have been killed by police and CRPF at Nowhatta. Some protesters also claimed that the encounter was state managed. Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, SM Geelani insisted that unidentified militants were killed in the gunfight that ensued after the duo attacked a CRPF party, killing a commandant and injuring six troopers and three policemen.
At SKIMS Soura, a youth named Ishfaq Ahmad Lone succumbed to injuries which he had suffered in police and CRPF action in his native town of Tangmarg in Baramulla district on Friday.  He was a student of the government model degree college Tangmarg.
A 10-year-old, Irfan Bashir Sofi, son of Bashir Ahmad Sofi, was seriously injured when government forces fired teargas shells at protesters at Jablipora in Bijbhera. Hit on his head, the boy was shifted to SMHS hospital where his condition, according to police, was stated to be stable.
At Malangpora in Pulwama, reports said, hundreds of youth staged massive anti-India protests and hurled stones at police and CRPF deployments. The government forces resorted to teargas shelling and fired bullets to disperse the protesters. A youth Hilal Ahmad Zargar was hit in the leg by a bullet and was shifted to Srinagar. Several other protesters injured in the clashes were shifted to nearby hospitals where most of them were discharged after first-aid.
In Tral, the native village of Burhan Wani, more than 50 persons were injured in clashes with government forces. Protests were also reported from Madoora and Batagund areas.
Six persons were injured in action by government forces at Balpora, Shopian, while several others sustained minor wounds in other areas of the southern Kashmir district.
At least 12 persons were injured, two of them critically, when forces fired pellets on protesters at Aripanthan Beerwah in Budgam district.
Natives, according to a local news agency, alleged that a police party smashed the windowpanes of some of the residential houses at Aripanthan village, leading to clashes in the area.
A large contingent of CRPF personnel arrived on the spot where the youth pelted them with stones. The CRPF personnel fired pellets and tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters. At least 12 persons were injured and two of them, Adil Ahmed and Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, received pellets in the face and were shifted to Srinagar hospital.
Reports of protests were received from Arigam and other villages of Bandipora, from Trehgam in Kupwara and from several other areas of Sopore in Baramulla. Scores of persons are reported to have sustained injuries in these clashes.
Meanwhile, police arrested several activists belonging to different right-wing Hindu outfits at Lal Chowk here as they tried to hoist the Indian tricolor.
A local news agency quoting a police officer said 20 activists from right-wing Hindu outfits hailing from states including Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana had come in the guise of yatris. “We arrested some of these activists near Ghanta Ghar on August 14 and on their information nabbed others during the wee hours on August 15,” the police was quoted.
During questioning, these activists confirmed that they were sent by the Bharatiya Janata Party to hoist the Indian flag at city centre Lal Chowk.
A police spokesman in a statement issued before the Batamaloo incident said that the situation remained under control in most parts of the valley. He said that five incidents of stone pelting were reported from Shopian, Sopore and Bandipora. “Restrictions under section 144/CrPC remained in force in the Valley while as curfew was imposed in some parts of Srinagar and in the towns of Anantnag and Sopore,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, major towns of Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal regions in Jammu province observed August 15 as Black Day. Members of the Muslim community neither participated in I-Day celebrations nor opened their shops in Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Doda, Thathri, Gath and Gandoh areas. A shutdown call had been given by local Muslim organisations such as Anjuman Islamia Bhaderwah, Seerat Committee Doda, Anjuman Islamia Gandoh, Markazi Majlis-e-Shoura Kishtwar and Masjid Committee Thathri.
Shops and business establishments remained shut while transport was off the roads. Locals said that the Muslim community stayed away from I-Day celebrations in every part of the Valley.

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