SHOPIAN: Clashes across Shopian district erupted on Tuesday after people came out on streets to demand the removal of the army camp at Pahnoo, where soldiers of the 44 Rashtriya Rifles stationed at Pahnoo killed two local militants and four civilians on Sunday evening.
Massive clashes were reported from Shopian areas of Pinjora, Meminder, Shirmal, and near the mini-secretariat in the main town. Eyewitnesses said that more than 20 persons were injured by pellets, teargas shells, and stun grenades in these clashes. A resident of Shirmal area said that the clashes lasted the entire day. A resident of Meminder said that people had never seen such shelling by government forces. He said 15 persons were injured by pellets and teargas canisters. Other residents said that the forces fired hundreds of pellets, stun grenades, and teargas shells to disperse the protesters during the day-long clashes in Meminder village.
Chief Medical Officer Shopian, Dr Abdul Rasheed, couldn’t be reached on his phone despite several attempts. Sources in different health centres of the district told Kashmir Reader that some of the injured civilians were being treated in health centres located in Meminder area while others were given medical aid by local chemists.
Residents of Pinjora and adjoining villages came out in large numbers to demand the removal of the army camp at Pahnoo. Some of the protesters headed towards the mini-secretariat in the main town where they clashed with government forces. The protestors said that the Pahnoo camp was situated in village orchards where they were scared to go. “Yesterday they killed four of our children, tomorrow they will kill more. The shutdown will continue till the army camp that killed our children is removed,” an elderly man who took part in the protest said.
Meanwhile, thousands of mourners continued to visit the homes of the slain civilians and militants, in six different villages of Shopian. The parents of all the slain civilians kept lamenting that their sons had no connections with militants. People who came to offer condolences also visited the graves of the slain and prayed for the peace of their souls.
Several resistance and religious leaders also visited the families and addressed public gatherings in which they urged people to stand united in the fight for freedom.
Ali Muhammad Wagay father of killed civilian Shahnawaz, said that his son was working at the house and orchards of another of the killed civilians, Suhail Ahmad Wagay. The father of Gowhar Ahmad, another slain whose body was found in a car the next morning, said his son was killed in cold blood and in army custody.
All the four civilians killed lived within a radius of six kilometres. In their villages, hundreds of vehicles carrying mourners were seen through the day. Freedom songs and slogans were played from mosque loudspeakers in all the villages.