CLASHES IN OLD CITY, PROTESTS ROCK UPTOWN; BUDGAM, KARGIL SIMMER
Dozens of people including a police officer were injured in a series of protests across Kashmir on Sunday against the execution of Ayatollah Sheikh Baqir Al-Nimr by the Saudi government. JK Shia Association, Ithihadul Muslimeen and Anjuman-e-Shar-e-Shian had urged people to stage peaceful protests today against Nimr’s execution.
Witnesses said hundreds of people took to the streets this morning at Hassanabad, Zadibal, Saida Kadal, Alamgari Bazar and Rainawari in old city to protest against Nimr’s execution. The protestors were raising anti-Saudi regime slogans. “He was a great scholar and yet he was executed,” said Imtiyaz Hussain, a protestor at Saida Kadal.
He said that when world is doing away with capital punishments, Saudi government has shown its rigid approach once again and has hurt the sentiments of people across the world.
At Saida Kadal youth resorted to stone pelting on policemen, who were trying to ensure smooth movement of traffic. Police resorted to massive tear-gas shelling on the protestors triggering chaos all around.
Protestors stopped vehicles at Saida Kadal, Alamgari Bazar and Rainawari. Dozens of protestors took to the streets at Zadibal and marched towards Saida Kadal to join the main protest. Traffic movement also got disrupted for hours in old Srinagar, especially on Saida Kadal and Rainawari routes. “The protests spilled over to other areas, including Nowpora, as youth fought pitched battles with the police,” witnesses added.
The Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Nowhatta, Aijaz Mir said that Superintendent of Police North (city) Shafaqat Hussain and at least two dozen policemen sustained injuries while dealing with the protestors.
“I am myself injured as a stone hit my leg. The SP North (city) received a few stitches and is okay now,” Mir said.
He said that clashes were on till evening and police was exercising maximum restraint. Dozens of protestors also got injured in violent clashes, police sources said.
Activists under the banner of Itehadul Muslimeen also staged a protest at Press Enclave and condemned Nimr’s execution.
The protestors were carrying banners and placards displaying anti-Saudi regime slogans. The protestors were trying to march towards UN office Sonawar to register their protest. Policemen, however, intercepted them and took at least 30 of them into preventive custody. They were later released in the evening. Protest rally was also taken out at Pandhrethan against the execution.
A massive demonstration was witnessed at Khomeni Chowk in Bemina. Senior leaders, including patron of Anjuman-e-Shar-e-Shian Aga Syed Alhassan Al Mousivi, Alsafvi addressed a gathering at Budgam chowk. The gathering was also addressed by senior National Conference leader and MLA Budgam Syed Aga Ruhulla and another NC leader Aga Mehmood. The trio strongly condemned the execution of Nimr.
Protests also erupted at Hajin, Sumbal and Sonawari in north Kashmir’s Bandipore district. Protests were also held in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Reports of similar protests poured in from Kargil district of Ladakh region. The call for protests was given by two religious organisations, Islamia School Kargil and Imam Khomeni Trust Kargil, who have called for three-day mourning in the district against Nimr’s execution. The protestors were carrying placards displaying slogans down with UN, US, and ISIS.
JK Shia Association, headed by Information Technology Minister, Moulana Imran Raza Ansari while condemning the execution of Nimri, said that the sentiments of people of entire Kashmir have been hurt. “Our protest is genuine. We protest against the execution of our leader, who was a great scholar,” said a spokesman of the Association. (With inputs from Ali Imran)