Throwing up a major challenge for the security agencies, armed gunmen on Friday appeared during the protests held in north Kashmir’s Hajin area in Bandipora district.
It was for the second time in a week that gun men marked their presence in the protests in the area since past one week.
Pertinently, the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was in Srinagar on Thursday where he took stock of the situation in the Valley. The Home secretary advised the security officials to curtail the heightened militant presence and movement to gain control over the law and order situation in the Valley.
Residents said the two militants surfaced during the protest march held in main Chowk Hajin soon after the Friday prayers were offered in a local mosque.
“The gunmen addressed locals inside a mosque situated in Banger Mohalla of Hajin and later marched with the protestors towards main chowk,” the locals said.
The development was also confirmed by the senior police officials of the district as well.
“Yes, two militants have addressed the locals and also marched with them during post Friday protests,” a senior official said.
Interestingly, two gunmen had surfaced during a protest march on last Friday in the same area and wielded their weapons as well.
Later, clashes erupted between youth and government forces near Goodwill school of Hajin.
Clashes also broke out between protesters and government forces in Nowhatta area of old city Srinagar city and Shopian town in south Kashmir as well.
Police officials and eyewitnesses said the youth assembled after Friday prayers and staged massive protests and indulged in stone- pelting on forces in Nowhatta area post Friday congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid.
“Forces used tear smoke shells in order to chase away the protesters. However, no one has been hurt in the incident.
They said violent protests erupted at Singlu Chowk in Shopian district of south Kashmir as well.
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in Pulwama town of south Kashmir against the ransacking of shops by government forces during clashes that erupted in the area on Thursday.
All shops and other business establishments remained shut while traffic was off the roads.
Several shopkeepers on Thursday alleged that they were beaten up by forces and vandalized their shops.
The shopkeepers carried out a protest rally and demanded strict action against the cops involved in ransacking of their shops.
“The forces beat up shopkeepers and also damaged accessories in the shops,” shopkeepers said, adding that a complete shutdown will be observed on Saturday in the town against the forces action.
Meanwhile, reports of massive clashes were received from north Kashmir’s Sopore town post Friday congregational prayers. Locals said the clashes triggered shutdown in area as well.
“Youth assembled near Markazi Jamia Masjid area and staged protest against the student detentions which later resulted in clashes,” eye witnesses said.
They said protesters pelted stones on forces deployed in the main bazaar of Sopore who retaliated by using teargas shells on them. (with inputs from Bilal Ahmad)