A 15-year-old boy succumbed to bullet injuries at SK Institute of Medical Sciences here on Thursday, taking the overall death toll to 38 in six days of unrest in Kashmir.
The teenager victim was identified as 15-year-old Irfan Ahmad Dar son of Manzoor Ahmad—a Class 10 student—from Tool Nowpora village of southern Kulgam district. Irfan, according to SKIMS medicos, had suffered a hemorrhage in his head and was admitted at the hospital on Monday. His family said he was beaten ruthlessly by Central Reserve Police Force personnel on his head.
"CRPF men first caught hold of Irfan's younger brother, a 7th standard student in a paddy field and thrashed him and when he ( Irfan) tried to rescue him from their clutches, he too was beaten mercilessly and hit on his head with gun-butts, causing critical injuries to him," they alleged.
Irfan's brother was treated at Sub-District Hospital Kaimoh and is nursing his injuries at home alongside his father Manzoor Ahmad who was also thrashed when he was visiting his son at SKIMS.
"On way to SKIMS, the CRPF men at Wanpoh Anantnag stopped us and asked us to reveal our identity. When they came to know we are from Kaimoh and Khudwani areas, they pounced on us, dragged us and beat us mercilessly," said a relative of Manzoor who was accompanying him.
He said Manzoor received grievous injuries and had to be treated at SDH Kaimoh.
"He could not even visit his son at SKIMS who was battling for his life," he said. Manzoor is working as a labourer.
"The ambulance ferrying body of Irfan was stopped on Srinagar-Anantnag highway and taken away by police," locals, who had assembled in his village for funeral prayers, told Greater Kashmir on Thursday evening. With Irfan's death, the overall death toll in Kashmir in the past six days of unrest reached 38, with 36 killings taking place in South Kashmir alone.
Meanwhile, curfew continued for sixth consecutive day in South Kashmir's Anantnag and Pulwama districts.
Reports said curfew continued in Anantnag, Bijbehara, Mattan, Kulgam, Kaimoh, Pulwama, Shopian, Awantipora, Pampore and Kakpora. But despite the curfew, youth clashed with government forces at Old Town Anantnag and Khanbal.
Clashes and protests were also reported from Kaimoh, Khudwani, Kulgam and Kokernag areas.
"Protesters set ablaze the residential house at Bemodora Kokernag where Burhan and two of his associates were killed on July 8. However, no one was reportedly injured as inmates were not present at the time of the incident. Another adjoining house was also set ablaze," reports said.
Rumors flew thick that information about presence of Burhan in the area was leaked to police by inmates of these houses. This claim couldn't however be ascertained independently.
As this word spread, people marched towards Bemodoora and torched the houses. One of the slain militants, Sartaj Ahmad of Peer Takiya village of Kokernag was kin of one of the families residing in one of these houses.
A police official confirmed that the houses were set on fire but refused to divulge why.
"We are trying to ascertain the facts," he said.
Reports said forces barged into houses at Lazibal area of Anantnag, triggering protests.
In Srinagar, clashes were reported from Nowgam, Batamaloo, Habba Kadal and Chinkral Mohalla areas.
Reports of clashes were also received from Nowhatta, Khanyar and Rajouri Kadal where forces resorted to firing teargas shells. Curfew in old Srinagar areas, Batamaloo and Maisuma continued for the sixth straight day.
Reports said a complete shutdown was observed across central Budgam district. In the morning, Narbal area witnessed clashes between forces and youth in which three youth sustained pellet injuries.
Complete shutdown was observed in Ganderbal district.
CM CHAIRS SECURITY MEET
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti chaired a security meet at Civil Secretariat here. DGP K Rajindera, special DG CRPF S N Srivastav and the Army's Srinagar-based General officer Commanding (GoC) of 15 Corps, Lt General Satish Dua participated in the meeting.
Sources said Mehbooba directed heads of various security agencies to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with protests after Friday congregational prayers.
Meanwhile, almost all Kashmir districts will remain under strict curfew in view of the possibility of protests after Friday congregational prayers, officials said.
An official spokesman said no public or vehicular movement, except medical emergencies, would be allowed on Friday.
'MEDICAL FACILITIES ENSURED'
Meanwhile, the J&K government said it has been regularly reviewing the arrangements, particularly for treatment of injured civilians. "The required facilities including availability of medical specialists, para medical staff and medicines have been ensured in all the hospitals, to facilitate timely and free treatment to all the patients," an official spokesman said.
The spokesman said as per the confirmation received from various agencies, "so far 31 civilians have lost their precious lives, during the law & order disturbances in the past few days."
He said 1640 persons have been treated for injuries in various Government hospitals. "At present, only 198 patients are currently admitted in the hospitals and the remaining have either been discharged or treated for minor injuries in OPDs."
He said 134 persons have reported with eye injuries and a large number of them have been discharged after specialized treatment.
Currently 46 such patients are admitted in SMHS Hospital and have undergone eye surgeries, he said.
"Further, so far a total of 276 surgeries have been performed in various hospitals across the Valley during the last 5-6 days. Further the hospital authorities have also been directed to provide free food to the accompanying attendants as well," the spokesman said.
He further claimed that "while tackling the unruly crowds, over 1500 security personnel have received injuries and have been provided treatment."
USING NON-LETHAL WEAPONS ONLY: SPL DG CRPF
Special Director General of CRPF S N Srivastav on Thursday appealed people of Kashmir to help maintain peace and stated that they were using "only non-lethal weapons" while dealing with the protestors.
"We are facing large scale protests from people, but we are using only non-lethal weapons that include pellets to avoid civilian causalities. We appeal people to help restore peace in Kashmir," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
"The situation is almost under control. We have directed out men to exercise maximum restraint on Friday."