Srinagar: Anti-India protests were held and government troops pelted with stones in several areas of Kashmir on Friday. For the first time since July last year, the ‘protest calendar’ had not called for a strike this Friday.
Protesters also waved the Pakistan flag near Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid in the Nowhatta area, despite army chief Bipin Rawat warning of “harsh action” two days ago against those hoisting the Pakistan flag in Kashmir.
Clashes with government troops were reported from several old-city areas of Srinagar soon after Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid. A procession of people came out of the mosque after the prayers and began raising Azadi slogans. The procession was intercepted by police and paramilitary forces deployed in the area, leading to intense clashes on the streets.
The government forces fired several teargas shells to scatter the protesters.
The resistance leadership had urged people to hold peaceful protests after congregational prayers and had not called for a shutdown on Friday, for the first time in the past nine months. Three days of strike had already been observed in the week, according to the protest calendar issued by the resistance leadership. A strike has been called on the next Friday.
Leaders from both factions of the Hurriyat, from JKLF and other pro-freedom organisations participated in the demonstration outside Jamia Masjid. According to a statement from Hurriyat (G), party leaders Peer Saifullah, Mohamad Yusuf Mujtahid, Ab Hamid Magrey, Syed Imtiyaz Hyder, Zahoor ul Haq, Nisar Ahmad, Arshid Ahmad and Gazi Javed participated.
In south Kashmir’s Frisal area of Kulgam, where two civilians were killed on Sunday at the site of a gun battle with militants, a pro-freedom rally was carried out after Friday prayers.
Reports of clashes also came in from areas of Pulwama. According to eye-witnesses, scores of youth held a demonstration which resulted in clashes with government troops near Murran Chowk.
After troops came under heavy stone-pelting, they resorted to tear gas shelling, witnesses said.
Protests, according to eye-witnesses, were also held in Sopore town where locals had attempted to march together from the town’s Jamia Masjid to the main chowk, raising pro-freedom slogans. Clashes broke out when government forces intercepted the march and after being pelted with stones, fired several teargas shells to disperse the crowd.
No reports of any grievous injury have been received so far.