People clash with troops in Soura, Sopore, Baramulla, Achabal; police arrest 55 more, including Hurriyat leader, Class 11 student
Srinagar: Defying police restrictions, protests were held and clashes with government troops broke out at several places across the Kashmir Valley on Monday leaving several people injured.
Troops remained stationed at most towns and villages of the Valley and concertina wires were laid on most roads to prevent people from marching or gathering for protest demonstrations.
Markets and shops that opened on Sunday following the relaxation period given by the pro-freedom leadership remained closed on Monday for the entire day.
Several people sustained injuries after the situation turned volatile at Soura locality of Srinagar when a local pro-freedom leader, Hayat Ahmad Day, was picked up by police when he was on his way home during the afternoon.
Witnesses said that announcements were made on public address systems at several mosques of the locality asking people to come out and protest the “unlawful” arrest.
Scores of people assembled and blocked the main road of Soura to demand the immediate release of the arrested leader.
Residents of the area said that government forces reached the spot and lobbed several rounds of teargas shells, PAVA shells and fired pellets at the protesters. Youths in retaliation hurled rocks at the forces and the clashes continued for several hours. At least seven persons sustained injuries during the clashes. They were treated in local health facilities.
Clashes erupted between youths and government forces following a police raid at Azad Gunj and Bunglow Bagh areas of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Witnesses said that a contingent of forces came to arrest local youths on charges of stone-pelting, to resist which locals came out of their houses and youths fought the troops with stones. Five civilians sustained injuries in the clashes and were treated in local clinics and hospitals.
Residents of Baramulla district said that policemen have begun roaming in civvies to apprehend alleged stone-pelters in several areas. Eight persons have been arrested by police in the last 24 hours and night raids to arrest youth are continuing, residents said.
Four shops were also gutted in fire in Baramulla district on Monday of causes yet unknown. The Baramulla Traders Federation president said of the fire incidents, “Someone in the government is involved in this, for how can someone set the shops afire when troops remain stationed throughout the day?” He said that the owners of the gutted shops are wanted by the police for taking part in stone-pelting.
In Sopore, clashes broke out at Hatlangoo village after forces raided a pro-freedom seminar-cum-rally organised by the locals. Witnesses said that forces lobbed dozens of tear smoke canisters and fired pellets at the people who were making arrangements for the rally. Five people sustained injuries during the subsequent clashes and they were shifted to nearby health centres.
Reports said that police arrested a Class 11 student during a night raid on Saturday in Nowpora area of Sopore. He has been identified as Ishfaq Majeed, son of Abdul Majeed Dar.
Sources said that government troops smashed windowpanes and ransacked dozens of residential houses in Pazalpora village in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara town. They said that contingents of troops barged into the village during the morning hours and created havoc in the entire village. The troops smashed household items like televisions, fridges, washing machines and other electronic appliances and a local power transformer was left completely damaged by the government troops.
Locals said that a load carrier parked at the road was also pushed into a nearby dry stream. The locals alleged that the forces beat up several residents, including women, and also damaged private vehicles.
In Ananatnag district, youths clashed with troops in Achabal area following a night raid by police to arrest local youths.
Witnesses said that local mosques reverberated with pro-freedom slogans and people were asked to come out of their houses to resist the raid. They said that the troops fired tear smoke shells and pellets at the protesting people. A few persons have reportedly sustained injuries.
An all-women protest march was taken out at Kaka Saria area of Srinagar in which the women raised slogans in favour of freedom.
In Hajin, police arrested a Hurriyat Conference (G) leader, Ali Mohammad Dar, when he was in a local mosque offering prayers. Dar, who is the Imam of the masjid, was arrested in the afternoon. His son Showkat Ahmad Dar was arrested on Sunday. Dar was leading the protest rallies regularly at villages of Sonawari.
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed across Bhaderwah and Doda areas in the Chenab Valley against the arrest of locals, including two Imams, and the curfew imposed by the government.
Shops, other business establishments and some private schools of the Muslim community remained closed.
The shutdown call was issued by Anjuman-e-Islamia Bhaderwah and Markazi Seerat Committee Doda.
Curfew remained imposed in Kishtwar district on Monday.
During a midnight raid late on Sunday night, police arrested a government employee for being involved in “anti-India” protests.
A call for complete shutdown was issued for Tuesday in Kishtwar district in protest against the arrest of four persons. Imam Jamia Masjid, Farooq Ahmed Kitchloo, announced the call and warned of more protests if the arrested persons were not released immediately.
According to a statement issued by police, the situation remained normal and peaceful throughout the Valley on Monday.
“During the day greater movement of vehicular traffic was observed in the valley including Srinagar city,” said a spokesman.
The police said 55 “miscreants” were arrested in the past 24 hours from various parts of the Valley for various offences of creating “disruptions in normalcy”.
In a separate statement, police said that the situation across Jammu region remained “normal”.
“There was no report of any untoward incident. The authorities announced curfew relaxation in Kishtwar town from 4 pm to 6 pm,” the statement said.
With inputs from Bilal Habib and Gowhar Maqbool