Pellets continue to rain on protestors; 250 more wounded in day-long clashes; JNV school gutted after teargas shells land inside; Massive protests in Srinagar areas against night raids by police; Shops open in several places after 6 pm
An elderly man died of cardiac arrest at his residence in Chawalgam village in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Wednesday amid heavy teargas shelling and pellet firing by forces in the area, witnesses and reports said, even as more than 200 persons were injured in fresh day-long clashes across Kashmir.
Clashes erupted in Chawalgam village on Wednesday afternoon and forces lobbed teargas shells and pepper gas to disperse protesters who had gathered for a rally, locals told Greater Kashmir. They said an elderly person, who was in the compound of his house, consequently suffered a heart attack and died. The deceased was identified as 65-year-old Abdul Gani Mir.
His family members said he suffered a stroke because of loud bangs of teargas shells fired by forces. “Heavy clashes were going on in the village when Mir suffered the stroke. The loud bangs of teargas and sound shells led to his heart attack,” they alleged. As soon as the word about his death spread, people hit the streets and held massive anti-India demonstrations.
Meanwhile, at least 160 people were injured—four of them grievously—in Muran village in Pulwama district as forces foiled a peaceful pro-freedom rally there. “The forces raided the village and lobbed teargas shells and fired pellets into the congregation,” witnesses said. “The forces’ action triggered violent clashes.”
Local health officials put the number of injured at around 160, saying most of them were being treated at Primary Health Center Ruhmoo while 19 were shifted to district hospital Pulwama.
“Six of the critically-injured were referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment,” the official said. “Almost all of them had multiple injuries.”
Another 60 persons were injured, most of them with pellets, after forces attacked a freedom rally-cum-unity conference in Mirhama-Matlgam village of Kulgam district.
“As the rally was on, police and paramilitary forces raided it and indiscriminately fired teargas shells and pellets,” witnesses said. “The forces’ action triggered clashes which continued for hours.”
A Health official said 13 with pellet injuries were treated at District Hospital Kulgam while two with serious injuries were shifted to Srinagar. “One of them had sustained pellet injury in eye and other had multiple fractures,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school went up in flames after a teargas shell fired by forces to break up a rally going on in its compound landed inside. “The fire was however, later brought under control by locals as well as fire-tenders,” reports said.
The school ambulance also caught fire in the forces’ action. The defiant people assembled again and the rally was held later successfully.
At least six persons were injured after forces intercepted groups of people marching towards Bewora village of Bijbehara in Anantnag district where a massive freedom rally was being held. Witnesses said the forces intercepted people near Hugam village, triggering clashes. However, a huge rally was held in Bewoora which went on peacefully.
Thousands of people participated in a pro-freedom rally in Kumdalan village of Shopian district. Religious clerics and local pro-freedom leaders addressed it.
Clashes, meanwhile, erupted in Nagbal, Kiloora and Hablipora villages of the district. A pro-freedom rally scheduled to be held in Shichan–Dialgam in Anantnag district, was however foiled by forces who had erected barricades in the area, witnesses said. The forces, according to locals, also allegedly damaged two electric transformers as a result of which the entire area has plunged into darkness.
Reports of protests and clashes were also received from Sangam, Vesu and Qazigund in Anantnag district; Kaimoh in Kulgam district and Charsoo in Pulwama district. Meanwhile, late evening reports said forces fired dozens of chilly grenades causing irritation to elderly and children, at old town Anantnag.
Dukhtaran-e-Millat said two of its activists were arrested from a house in Qazigund where they were staying as guests. Tehmeena and Kulsooma were arrested when police raided the house in Qazigund early morning, said a spokesperson of the outfit.
Reports said Dardsun, Kralpora area of Kupwara district remained on boil due to intense clashes between forces and protestors. To control the protestors, forces resorted to rubber-bullet firing, use of pellets and tear-gas shelling in which at least 11 persons were injured. According to doctors, four people sustained pellet injuries, two got rubber bullets in their legs and two received “shell injuries.”
Meanwhile, relatives of the injured, said there were no protests in the area when forces entered there and started breaking windowpanes of houses and damaging property.
“When we protested, they fired pellets on youth from a close-range, targeting their eyes,” said a resident.
Police officials alleged the incident occurred when some youth targeted a cavalcade of an army officer with stones.
Reports from Baramulla district said police imposed restrictions and curfew after 6 pm to foil resistance camp’s relaxation call. The overall situation, barring a stone-pelting incident at Dewanbagh Bridge, remained under control.
Reports from Sopore said on the call of joint resistance program, people offered Zuhr and Asr prayers on roads in various villages and later staged pro-freedom protests. The areas where pro-freedom rallies where held include Chanakhan, Muslim Peer, Tujar Sharief, Bomia, Chotta Bazar, Noorbagh, Nowpora, Botengo, Dooru, Hygam, Tarzoo and Mazbugh.
Locals of Hathlangoo, Tarzoo, Botengu and Dooru alleged forces’ atrocities.
A complete shutdown was observed in Ganderbal district. Reports said at least six persons sustained injuries during clashes between forces and protesters in Fatehpora area. They said forces swung into action to disperse a peaceful protest-cum-unity rally taken out by locals, leading to clashes in which six persons including an elderly woman and a police official got injured. The injured were taken to district hospital Ganderbal wherefrom one of them was referred to SKIMS Srinagar. Locals said forces conduct night raids to arrest youth and damage property. Protests also erupted in Gangerhama area but there were no reports of any injury to anyone. Sources said police also arrested a member of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat from Saloora area.
Reports said overnight protests erupted in Padshahibagh area of Srinagar against night raids by police while massive protests followed by clashes broke out in the area against the detention of youth.
While youth clashed with forces, scores of women staged a protest rally. The residents also alleged forces’ atrocities, stating they barged into residential houses and vandalized properties. Reports of clashes also poured in from Batamaloo area where youth clashed with forces throughout the day, resulting in injuries to at least five protestors.
Reports of protests against night raids also poured in from Lasjan area of uptown, Srinagar. Reports said evening clashes erupted at Rainwarai, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Bohri Kadal, Khanyar, Palpora, Noorbagh, Hawal, 90-feet, Lawaypora, and HMT areas. Reports said a torch procession was taken out from Nowgam area while protest rallies were witnessed at Hyderpora, Peerbagh, Humhama and Lasjan areas. Late night clashes took place at Rainawari, Batamlaoo, Zampa Kadal, Chanapora and Nowshera, Brein-Nishat, Ishbar, and New Theed Harwan. A rally was also held in Dargah area in which hundreds of people participated and took the pledge to take the struggle forward.
Late evening reports said a rally was held from Rajouri Kadal to Nowhatta which was intercepted by forces who fired tear smoke shells to foil it.
Late evening reports said majority of shops opened in Srinagar after 6 pm on the call of joint resistance leadership. Markets like Regal Chowk, Clock Tower, Residency Road, Jehangir Chowk and M A Road were abuzz with business activities. Similarly, old city areas, shops were open till late evening, reports said.
A spokesman of the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir said barring some “stray stone pelting incidents”, the overall situation remained “under control” throughout Kashmir. “Four incidents of stone pelting were reported from Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Kupwara,” he said. “At these places, miscreants assembled on the roads and attempted to disturb the normal traffic and movement of people by pelting stones on vehicles, police and force deployments.”
He said at Kulgam “about 300 assembled at Mirhama and pelted stones on police and forces deployments and set ablaze Jawahar Navodaya Vidyala School which suffered damages.”
“Miscreants also hurled a petrol bomb on State Rest House, Chawalgam which resulted in fire and partial damages to the rest house,” he alleged and added that the “miscreants also pelted stones on the police and forces at this place.”
(With additional reporting from Altaf Baba, Ghulam Muhammad, Sheikh Nazir)