Kashmir shuts to protest Shopian youth’s killing
Srinagar: About twenty persons were injured in street clashes with government forces that broke out in several parts of Kashmir on Friday. In Hajin town of Bandipora district, ten persons reportedly sustained pellet injuries, according to witness accounts. The pro-freedom leadership had called for a shutdown and protests after Friday prayers against the killing of a youth in Shopian by government forces during a cordon and search operation.
The administration had imposed strict restrictions in parts of Srinagar and in Shopian town to prevent violence. In Srinagar, restrictions were imposed in areas under seven police stations in the downtown area – Kralkhud, Nowhatta, Khanyar, MR Gunj, Safakadal, Rainawari, and Maisuma.
Authorities had also sealed all roads leading to the Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta and had barred Friday congregation prayers there.
All schools and colleges in Kashmir were shut on Friday and Kashmir University examinations scheduled on the day had been postponed.
Shops, restaurants, petrol pumps and other business establishments across the Valley remained closed. Public transport was also completely off the roads.
Clashes between government forces and local youth erupted in Sarai Bala area near Lal Chowk in Srinagar after police detained JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik after he took part in congregational prayers at the Dastgeer Sahab shrine. Soon after the prayers, Malik led a protest against the killing of the Shopian youth. Raising pro-freedom and anti-Indian slogans, the protesters attempted to march towards Lal Chowk but police detained Malik on the way, triggering clashes in the area.
Protesting against Malik’s detention, youth hurled stones at the policemen and the police fired teargas shells at them.
Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had been put under house detention on Thursday evening. He was barred from leading the congregational prayers at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid.
Clashes also erupted in Soura area of Srinagar in which two persons reportedly sustained minor injuries. Soon after the Friday prayers at the local mosque, a group of youth took to the streets to protest against the killing of the Shopian youth. They pelted the government troops with stones and teargas shelling was used to disperse them, said an eyewitness.
Meanwhile, train services between Baramulla and Banihal town were suspended by the authorities.
In Hajin town of Bandipora, hundreds of youth assembled outside the Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers and shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, locals told Kashmir Reader. Youths were seen waving the Pakistan flag during the protest, locals said.
Witnesses said that the youth took out a protest march from the Jamia Masjid and on the way hurled stones at the Army Goodwill School in Hajin .Government forces deployed near the school used teargas to disperse the protesters. This led to street clashes between the youth and government forces deployed in the area.
A youth was arrested during the clashes, witnesses said.
Sopore town observed a complete shutdown with all business establishments staying closed and public transport off the roads. Attendance in government offices was also thin in the town.
Clashes were reported from several areas in Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian districts of south Kashmir. Anantnag town, according to reports, remained shut and calm until the congregational prayers in the main mosque. After the prayers, a protest march was taken out towards Lal Chowk area of the town. The march was dispersed by government forces using tear smoke shells and pellet guns, according to local sources.
“More than a dozen people were left injured during these clashes, many of them with pellets,” a local source told Kashmir Reader. He said that most of the injured were treated locally at private clinics.
Doctors at Anantnag district hospital said they received only three injured during the day. “One had an injury caused by a stone, and two others had pellet injuries,” said Dr Majid Mirab, Medical Superintendent of the hospital.
Meanwhile clashes were also reported from Tahab, Czaatpora and Kakapora area of Pulwama district. As per reports, local youths and government forces kept fighting pitched battles on the streets throughout the day. Several people received minor injuries during these clashes and were treated locally, reports said.
In the neighbouring Shopian district, stone-pelting was reported from Meemandar, Shirmal and Mini Secretariat areas. Nobody was reported injured during these clashes which, according to reports, continued through the better part of the day.
Kulgam town remained shut but there were no incidents of stone-throwing reported from any part of the district.
Minor clashes were reported after Friday prayers in Kupwara town.