Clashes mark shutdown against death sentence to Kashmir youth

2 photojournalists injured at Nowhatta; JKLF protests; Mirwaiz stopped from leading march
SRINAGAR: Fierce clashes erupted between youth and government forces in Nowhatta area of old city and north Kashmir’s Sopore town after Friday prayers amid a shutdown called by the resistance leadership.
As soon as Friday prayers ended at both the places, youth took to streets and staged protests against the death sentence awarded to a south Kashmir youth by a Bengal court.
The joint resistance leadership had called for protests today against the life sentence awarded to Muzaffar Ahmad Rather of Kulgam district, calling it “as miscarriage of justice”.
Rather, along with two Pakistani nationals, was awarded a death sentence by a court in North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal on January 21 for plotting to blow up army bases in J&K in 2007.
Outside Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area, fierce stone fighting engulfed the area. Protestors also hurled a petrol bomb, injuring a CRPF trooper.
Eyewitness said police and paramilitary forces personnel were heavily deployed outside the Masjid in strength. Police used teargas shells and stun grenades to disperse the protesters.
Two photo journalists Irfan Ahmad of PTI and Farooq Javid of Rising Kashmir were injured at Nowhatta during the clash at.
Protests also erupted between youth and government forces in main market Soura, Srinagar, after police arrested two youths accompanying Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani when he was being discharged from SKIMS on Friday afternoon.
Witnesses told Kashmir Reader that a police party, from police station Soura entered the premises of SKIMS Soura, where a group of people where holding pro-freedom, pro-Geelani and anti-India slogans, and bundled two youths, including one from Sopore town.
A police official at Police Station Soura, however, denied that any youth was detained. Scores of people demonstrated on main road Soura, demanding youths’ release.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leaders assembled at Maisuma and staged protest. The protesters were chanting anti-government slogans.
At Sopore town, forces fired teargas shells to disperse protesters who had assembled outside Jamia Masjid Sopore and were marching towards Main Chowk, Sopore, shouting pro-freedom slogans. The forces were already deployed at Main chowk and stopped the protesters from proceeding ahead, triggering a stone-fighting.
Meanwhile, the Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who was scheduled to carry out a rally placed under house arrest.
A Hurriyat (M) leader said that a large contingent of police was deployed outside the Nigeen residence of Mirwaiz who didn’t allow him to reach Jamia Masjid today.
A complete shutdown was observed on Friday across the Valley. All the shops, petrol pumps, business establishments and other establishments remained closed throughout the day, while traffic was relatively less than other roads.
Police on Friday claimed to have arrested a militant during a search operation in Nowpora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
An official said that Manzoor Ahmad Ganai of Lashkar-e-Toiba was arrested from a mosque during an operation in Nowpora Payeen village.
A pistol and two grenades were recovered from his possession.
Meanwhile, several persons were injured in clashes that erupted after forces launched a search operation in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Witnesses said that people took to streets after forces surrounded Nawpora Payeen village after inputs about the presence of militants.
They said forces resorted to aerial firing to disperse protesters who were throwing stones to help the militants escape.
Also, police claimed that police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) recovered a cache of arms and ammunition during a search operation in Ganderbal district.
An official said that a joint party of police and 118 BN CRPF busted a militant hideout in Fraw area of Gund tehsil of the district.
“Two AK 47 magazines, 32 rounds, a 5-kg gas cylinder and few biscuit packets were recovered during the operation,” said the official.