Kashmir shuts to mourn teenager, militants killings

Prayers not allowed in Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid, Hurriyat leaders house arrested

Srinagar:  Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar were not allowed but clashes broke out in several areas of the Valley after congregational prayers at mosques, amid a shutdown observed across the Valley in response to the call given by the pro-freedom leadership. Shops, business establishments, and schools remained closed in most parts of Kashmir and traffic services were affected, with only scant movement of private and commercial vehicles reported in all districts.
Clashes between local youth and government forces broke out in Hajin and Sopore areas
in north Kashmir where scores of youth assembled outside the local Jamia Masjid after offering Friday prayers. According to eyewitness, the youth attempted to take out a protest march and also attacked the Army Goodwill School in Hajin with stones. Government troops fired teargas shells to disperse the youth, which led to the troops being pelted with stones.
In Sopore, intense clashes were reported between government forces and protesters near the old town area. Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that soon after the congregational prayers in the Jamia Masjid, scores of people gathered outside the mosque and started raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The people then started marching towards the main chowk in Sopore but the government forces deployed there chased them away.
Locals in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district observed a complete shutdown against the killing of two militants in an encounter in Padgampora village on Thursday.
Pulwama district in south Kashmir remained shut for the second consecutive day on Friday in mourning and in protest against the killing of two local militants and a 15-year-old boy by government forces in Padgampora village on Thursday. The two killed militants, Jahangir Ahmad Ganai of Quil and Mohammad Shafi Shergujri of Banderpora, were part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The 15-year-old boy, Amir Nazir, was killed when government forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters near the site where the forces were engaged in a gunfight with the two militants. More than a dozen youth suffered bullet and pellet injuries during the forces’ action.
To pay homage to the killed militants and the teenage boy, all shops, business offices, petrol pumps and private offices remained shut in Pulwama, Kakpora, Newa,  Awantipora, Pampore, Tahab and other townships of the district. The authorities deployed large contingents of police and para-military forces in the townships to prevent public protests. Though the situation remained peaceful in most of the areas, but in Tahab, reports said, youth took to streets after the Friday congregational prayers and clashed with forces. Nobody is reported to have been injured during the clashes.
In Tral township of the district, a complete shutdown was observed for the sixth consecutive day. The township has been observing the shutdown since the killing of two local Hizb militants in an encounter in Nazneenpora village on Sunday.
People in huge numbers continued to throng the residences of the slain militants and of the boy, Amir Nazir, to express solidarity with their families. Despite snowfall and heavy rain, thousands of people, including the representatives of pro-freedom and religious groups, visited the homes to pay their tributes.
Normal life in other districts of south Kashmir — Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam — remained paralysed as a shutdown was observed in accordance with the call given by the united pro-freedom leadership. All shops, business establishments, private offices, educational institutions and petrol pumps were shut in Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam and other major townships of the region. Traffic also remained off the roads. Troops were deployed in strength in all the townships to prevent protests.
The shutdown call for Friday was given by the united pro-freedom leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.
Security was beefed up in Srinagar’s downtown areas like Maisuma, Nowhatta and Khanyar by the government. To prevent protests, the authorities also put pro-freedom leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ayaz Akbar, and Raja Mehrajudin under house arrest.