Kashmir registers day with ‘highest number of injuries’ | Number of total civilians injured crosses 10,000 mark | Pellets rain on protestors in South Kashmir | Youth set ablaze mini-secretariat in Shopian | Boy, 17, sustains head injury in Sopore, put on ventilator | Freedom rallies held in several localities
On the day an all-party parliamentary delegation visited Kashmir, at least 600 people sustained injuries in day-long clashes in several areas of the region on Sunday, with over 500 of them receiving pellet and tear-gas shell wounds in South Kashmir areas alone, witnesses and reports said. A 17-year-old boy from Sopore area of north Kashmir sustained “serious” head injury and his condition was stated as critical in a Srinagar hospital.
Majority of these injuries were reportedly caused by pellet firing and with these fresh injuries, the number of total injured in the ongoing uprising that entered its 58th day on Sunday, crossed the 10000-mark while at least 73 people, including two cops, have been killed during this period. More than 600 have been hit by pellets in their eyes and are on the verge of losing their eyesight in the affected eye, according to medicos.
At least 500 people were injured, most of them with pellets, when government forces attempted to foil peaceful pro-freedom rallies in South Kashmir areas on Sunday. The agitated protesters set ablaze Deputy Commissioner’s office complex in Shopian town following attack on a rally by forces in Pinjoora village. Witnesses said forces lobbed teargas shells and fired pellets into a pro-freedom rally which was underway in Pinjoora’s Eidgah. The forces’ action triggered massive clashes, resulting in injuries to scores of people. According to witnesses, people had anticipated the forces’ action and had assembled at the venue on Saturday evening itself, and many of them spent the night there only.
Health officials put the number of injured in Pinjoora village at around 300, with at least 22 of them being shifted to Srinagar health facilities for specialized treatment. However, locals said, scores of others with pellet victims were treated locally by chemists and thus the number of injured “would certainly be more.”
“One of the youths had sustained teargas shell injury in his abdomen and was also refereed to Srinagar,” an official said, adding: “Almost all people shifted to Srinagar had pellet injuries in their eyes.”
As the defiant youth made the forces to retreat, people again starting assembling at the venue and the rally was held successfully. At least 35,000 people participated in the freedom rally-cum-unity conference which, besides religious clerics of various sects, was addressed by local pro-freedom leaders including Tehreek-I-Hurriyat District President Muhammad Yousuf Falahi.
Meanwhile, as the word about forces’ action in Pinjoora reached Shopian town, people instantly hit the streets. Announcements were made from Public Address Systems of mosques, asking people to come out. The angry protesters marched towards DC-office-cum Mini-Secretariat Shopian and set it ablaze.
“The fire tenders later rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control,” witnesses said.
At least 50 people, including eight women, sustained injuries in Ashmuji village of Kulgam district as forces tried to foil another peaceful rally there. Witness said forces vandalized the venue and set ablaze the tent erected for people, triggering clashes in which dozens sustained pellet injuries in action by forces. The villagers in Ashmuji and adjoining its areas alleged that government forces ran amok and thrashed “whosoever came their way.” “Even women and children were not spared,” they said.
Eight women sustained injuries in Chansoo village after forces fired pellets directly towards them, reports said.
The injured were reportedly shifted to District hospital Kulgam, District Hospital Anantnag, Sub-district hospital Qaimoh and local Primary Health Centers, while three of the critically-wounded were referred to Srinagar hospitals.
40 more people were injured after forces intercepted people near Fatehpora-Kabamarg in Anantnag (Islamabad) district while they were proceeding towards adjacent Sadoora village to attend a freedom rally. “The forces lobbed teargas shells and fired pellets on them without any provocation,’ locals said.
Eight people were injured in the forces’ action, they said, and were being treated at District hospital Anantnag while others were treated locally.
A doctor at the district hospital said they received around 33 pellet-hit cases and also some persons who were beaten up. The rally however was held in Sadoora till 4 pm. “Byt, forces raided the village and vandalized the venue and lobbed teargas shells and fired pellets, injuring at least a dozen people,” witnesses said. Six of the injured with pellet injuries were being treated at District Hospital Anantnag.
At least 20 people were injured in Drubgam village of Pulwama district as forces tried to thwart another peaceful pro-freedom rally there. “All of the injured had pellet injuries and were treated at different local health facilities,” reports said.
Another freedom rally was held in Haasanpora-Arwani in Anantnag district. The rally, besides religious clerics of various sects, was also addressed by Muslim Conference Chairman and Hurriyat Conference (G) leader, Ghulam Nabi Sumji.
Pertinently, freedom-cum-unity rallies of various sects—Deobandis, Barelvis, Jamiat-I-Ahlihadith and Jamat-I-Islami (under the banner of Itihad-I-Millat)—have become a routine in South Kashmir villages during the ongoing uprising triggered by the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani on July 8. The rallies went peacefully during the first month of the uprising, but are now being attacked by forces with teargas shells and pellets.
Clashes also erupted in Vessu village of Qazigund in Anantnag district after the funeral prayers of Basit Ahangar who died of multiple pellet injuries and a head wound, yesterday evening. Witnesses said thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of Ahangar, a college student, this afternoon. Youth took to streets and staged massive demonstrations and forces tried to disperse the protesters, triggering clashes in which several people sustained injuries.
Reports of clashes also came in from Kaimoh and adjoining villages of Khudwani, Redwani and Rampora in Kulgam district. Six people reportedly sustained injuries there. Elsewhere, protests erupted in Dooru, Kokernag, Verinag, Pahlalgam and Sangam in Anantnag district; Charsoo, Gusoo, Tahab, Ruhmoo, Wuchbugh and Kakpora in Pulwama district and Kulgam villages including Bugam, Bolsu, Mohamadpora, Yaripora, Frisal and Kujar.
At least 60 persons were injured in south Kashmir’s Tral in clashes with forces. Witnesses said forces fired pellets and teargas shells inside the revered shrine of Shah-e-Hamadan (RA) in Tral town when hundreds of people clashed throughout the day to claim the venue where they were supposed to organize a pro-freedom rally.
Witnesses said scores of women fainted inside the shrine due to tear-smoke while locals also accused forces of breaking windowpanes and beating inmates. Earlier, the house of Tral legislator Mushtaq Ahmad Shah was attacked with stones by protesters during clashes, PTI reported. Witnesses said people from different villages of Tral defied the curfew to move towards local Eidgah.
A 17-year-old boy was seriously injured in forces’ action in Sonawani area of Wadoora Sopore. Four others also sustained injuries. The boy identified as Musaib Majeed Nagoo, according to reports, sustained serious head injury and was referred to a Srinagar hospital where his condition was stated as critical.
Witnesses said after Musaib was hit on his head, forces dragged him and beat him up. “It wasn’t clear whether a tear-gas shell or pellets hit him. It seemed as if teargas shell had hit his head. It was after hectic efforts of local youth that Musaib was saved from the clutches of forces and right away shifted to SMHS hospital in Srinagar,” they said.
He was operated upon and later put on ventilator, the boy’s father, Abdul Majeed told Greater Kashmir. “His condition is critical,” he said.
Reports from Baramulla said strict restrictions remained in force across its town. All the Bridges connecting Old Town with Civil Lines areas remained closed throughout the day. Meanwhile, police raided the house of local Tehreek-e-Hurriyat activist, Bashir Ahmad Sofi, at Khawja Bagh Baramulla. However, Sofi has already sold the house to his brother and is not staying with them, according to his family.
“Despite informing police that he has already sold his house to his brother, police entered inside our house and ransacked it. Several electronic gadgets including laptop were broken by cops while windowpanes of the house were also smashed,” said his brother.
Residents of Nowpora, Wagoora held a protest demonstration this morning against police raids in the area. According to locals, forces on Saturday morning raided the area and resorted to heavy teargas shelling “without any provocation.”
Meanwhile, night curfew was imposed in different “sensitive” areas of Kupwara district on Sunday evening, official sources said. Police asked shopkeepers not to open their shops and advised them “not to come out of their homes from 6 pm to 6 am.”
On the joint resistance leadership’s call for Kunan-Poshpora Chalo, thousands of people— raising pro-freedom slogans—marched towards the area on Sunday. They included women, men and children from different adjoining areas like Gushi, Bohipora, Karihama, Pazipora, Batergam and Trehgam. This procession was telephonically addressed by Hurriyat (G) spokesman, Ayaz Akbar Bhat.
Meanwhile, another programme was organized at Pohru-Pith village in Langate area where people from adjoining villages of Langate and Handwara assembled. In Markaz-i-Jamia Masjid, a ‘Milat Conference’ was organized which was attended by thousands of people. Clashes erupted in Papchan area of Bandipora with youth and forces fighting pitched-battles for hours together. Youth hurled rocks at forces who responded with teargas shelling.
Reports said peaceful protest was held in Main Chowk Bandipora while stone-pelting was reported from Potshai, Aloosa, Pazalpora, and Ajar areas. Reports said Tehreek-e-Hurriyat district president Rayees Ahmed Mir was detained by police. Mir, according to locals, was on the run for a long time.
Reports said forces foiled a pro-freedom rally at Al-Noor Colony Safakadal in old Srinagar after Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani addressed it telephonically. Witnesses said thousands of people including women and children had gathered to participate in the rally and as soon as Geelani finished his address, forces fired pellets and teargas shells at the venue, resulting in injuries to at least 30 people including four women and three children. The residents alleged that forces also seized the tent and audio system. The forces’ action triggered massive clashes in the area.
Reports said despite restrictions in place in old city areas, clashes erupted at Nawa Kadal, Nawabazar, Rajouri Kadal, Bohri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Kawdara, Barthana, Qamarwari where forces fired dozens of pellets and tear-gas shells to disperse the protestors. Reports said at least 20 youth sustained injuries at Rainawari when forces foiled people’s attempt of offer ‘Asr’ prayer on road. The injured were removed to SMHS hospital, they said. Reports said clashes took place at Zampa Kadal, Watal Kadal, Chattabal, Bemina, 90-feet road, Lawaypora, Parimpora, Palpora and Eidgah areas where at least six youth sustained pellet injuries. Six other youth also sustained pellet and teargas shell injuries during clashes at Lasjan, Padshahibagh, Nowgam, Chanapora and Natipora areas.
Meanwhile, two photojournalists were also hit by pellets while covering an event in Naidyar area of Rainawari in Srinagar. They were identified as Zuhaib Maqbool and Muzamil Mattoo.
Late evening reports said violent clashes took place at Zojilankar area of Rainawari. A massive pro-freedom rally was taken out at Gojwara after Maghrib prayers which was however, intercepted at Khanyar by forces who fired teargas shells and pellets, resulting in injuries to five youth.
Two persons were injured after paramilitary CRPF men fired pellets in Aripanthan village of Budgam district, witnesses said. They were hit by pellets when CRPF men allegedly fired at a group of people buying sugar at a local ration depot, they said. The injured were identified as Arif and Abid and shifted to PHCs at Aripanthan and Beerwah.
“It was an unprovoked firing. We were standing outside the ration depot, waiting for our turn when CRPF vehicles passed through the area and fired a volley of pellets,” said a local resident.
Following the firing, people pelted stones at the CRPF vehicles, he said.
A major pro-freedom rally was held at Kralpora Budgam in which thousands of people participated. The rally, however, remained peaceful.
Reports from Ganderbal district said strict restrictions remained in place at Cherwan Kangan till afternoon. Locals there are demanding release of youth detained by police. A youth was detained from Droktong in Kangan area.
According to a statement issued by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir, 10 incidents of stone pelting were reported from Srinagar, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Awantipora and Sopore. “At these places, mobs assembled on the roads and attempted to disturb the normal traffic and movement of people by pelting stones on vehicles and later on at police and security force deployments. There was no curfew in the valley except some areas of Srinagar falling under the Police Stations of Khanyar, Safakadal, Nowhatta, Rainawari and M. R Gunj,” the statement read. “In Shopian, a mob attacked and set ablaze mini secretariat Shopian. The fire was brought under control, however, the structure suffered partial damage.”
“In Tral a huge mob pelted stones on the police and security forces. Some of the miscreants when chased away entered in a Ziyarat and again started pelting stones from the compound of the Ziyarat. Police is cautiously handling the situation,” the statement claimed.
(With additional reporting from Altaf Baba, Ghulam Muhammad, Zahid Maqbool, Eijaz-ul Haq Bhat, Sheikh Nazir and M A Dar)