Civilian killed in Lethpora, another ‘critical’; Toll reaches 52

A civilian was killed and two others critically injured when the security guards of ADC Ramban Babu Ram opened fire on protesters in Lethpora area of Pulwama district on Tuesday evening, triggering massive protests and clashes, witnesses said.
Civilian killed in Lethpora, another ‘critical’; Toll reaches 52
Photo: Mubashir Khan/GK

A civilian was killed and two others critically injured when the security guards of Additional District Commissioner Ramban Babu Ram opened fire on protesters in Lethpora area of Pulwama district on Tuesday evening, triggering massive protests and clashes, witnesses said. With the fresh killing, the death toll in the on-going Kashmir unrest has reached 52 in 25 days.

The deceased was identified as Farooq Ahmad Kuchay son of Ghulam Nabi of Lethpora. Another youth Suhail Ahmad son of Abdul Gani Wani of Lethpora was critically injured and has been shifted to SK Institute of Medical Sciences Srinagar where his condition was stated to be "very serious" at 11 pm. "He is being operated upon," a doctor said.

Witnesses said protests had rocked Lethpora area, which falls on Srinagar-Jammu highway, against the "excesses" by forces there on Tuesday evening. "People were offering Maghrib prayers when several cops in civvies entered Lethpora and beat inmates in a local Jamia Masjid," a local resident said.  They said the forces personnel smashed the windowpanes of the mosque and also resorted to teargas shelling in the area.

People raised the alarm and hit the streets instantly against the forces' action following which the security personnel in civvies fled the place.

"A vehicle of ADC Ramban Babu Ram in the meantime passed through the area and people—presuming it to be belonging to the forces personnel—tried to stop it," witnesses said.

They said policemen escorting the ADC opened fire, causing death of a protester and critical injuries to two others.

Police have arrested ADC's guard identified as Satish Kumar Manhas (Belt No 704) who opened fire on the protesters.

The situation in the area was tense when reports last came in.

SCORES INJURED IN DAY LONG CLASHES

Scores of people were injured—24 of them with pellets—in fresh clashes that erupted in several parts of Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, even as curfew remained in place in many areas for the 25th straight day.

Curfew continued to remain imposed in areas falling under six police stations in Srinagar, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, and also Khanpora area in Baramulla. Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in several other towns as well.

Police and paramilitary forces lobbed teargas shells and used pellets in Harwan and Chitergam areas in Srinagar, Tral area in Pulwama and Trehgam area in Kupwara district. "We have received eight people with pellet injuries from Harwan and Chitergam areas of Srinagar," Medical Superintendent of SMHS hospital, Dr Nazir Choudary, told Greater Kashmir on Tuesday evening.

Witnesses said people at both the places assembled in hundreds and started chanting slogans against civilian killings and continuous "excesses" by forces across the Valley. They said police and paramilitary forces arrived at these spots and lobbed teargas shells and used pellets.

In Tral, five persons were injured in Chek Rajpora village, three of them with pellets, when police tried to arrest youth during nocturnal raids. Witnesses said at midnight, when the forces tried to raid houses of some youth in the village, the inmates raised the alarm.  "Some people on mosque loudspeakers asked people to come out from their houses. Soon, the entire village was on roads," they said, adding: "Police burst tear-smoke shells and used pellets to disperse the protestors."

In some Srinagar areas including Khanyar and Batamaloo, people tried to defy curfew. However, police and paramilitary forces foiled the bids.  In Civil Lines areas of Srinagar, people offered prayers on roads.

In the evening, women carried out a huge procession at Abi Guzar here, but police foiled it.

A Dukhtran-e-Millat statement said despite restrictions and hardships, thousands of women participated in day-long processions in Kashmir.

"In these programmes, women were made aware about different perspectives of the Kashmir dispute. They also pledged that they will continue to support the resistance movement until the end of 'Indian occupation'," the statement said, adding: "Programs were held in all districts of Kashmir and at many places in Jammu province. Women in large numbers especially from Habbakadal, Soura, Hazratbal, Lalbazar, Khonmouh, Hyderpora and other places of Srinagar city participated in the programmes."

The statement said similar programmes were held across South Kashmir.

"50 massive congregations were held while hundreds of other programmes were also held in every nook and corner of J&K on Tuesday," the DeM statement said.

A large pro-freedom procession was taken out in Lal Bazaar Srinagar in the evening but police and CRPF resorted to tear-gas shelling on the peaceful protestors, local residents said. Police and CRPF men later broke windows of numerous houses in the area "as an act of vengeance", they said.

Reports from Ganderbal district said amid complete shutdown, protests erupted at some places. However no was injured. Similar reports were received from Budgam district where peaceful protests were held at several places.

NORTH KASHMIR

Forces fired pellets to disperse a huge procession in Trehgam area of Kupwara. Five youth received pellet injuries and were rushed to the district hospital. Three of them were later shifted to Srinagar for specialized treatment.

A youth of Shumnag Kupwara, identified as Shoib Rashid Shah, was shifted to Srinagar in a critical condition after he was beaten by CRPF personnel, locals said. 

In other areas of the district including Trehgam, Handwara, Vilgam, Lalpora, forces burst tear-smoke shells and dispersed protestors.     

In Sopore town, protests erupted at Zaingair, Hati Shah, Batpora and some other areas. The protestors also attacked a police post in Sopore. The clashes left half a dozen people injured.

In Baramulla, curfew remained in place in Khanpora area while as all the four bridges of the district were closed to stop movement of people.

Clashes broke out between youths and forces in Bandipora district on Tuesday afternoon.

Witnesses said forces intercepted a protest rally near Madar village which was heading towards Bandipora town from Arin and Sumlar areas. The cops used teargas shells to disperse the protesters, triggering clashes.

Violent clashes erupted in Natpora after police arrested a minor identified as Aqib Ahraf Mir. The clashes also erupted at Kaloosa area of the district.

SOUTH KASHMIR

At least nine protesters sustained pellet injuries in Shopian district on Tuesday even as curfew continued in many South Kashmir towns for the 25th running day. Witnesses said police fired pellets on protesters in Imam Sahib area of Shopian, resulting in injuries to nine people. The injured are being treated at the district hospital.

Several people were injured as forces lobbed teargas shells and resorted to baton-charge on protesters at Achabal and Mattan areas of Anantnag district.

Curfew remained in force in Anantnag, Bijbehara, Kulgam and Pulwama towns. Meanwhile, responding to call of pro-freedom leadership, women held protest demonstrations across South Kashmir. Massive pro-freedom rallies of men were also held simultaneously.

Thousands assembled at Jablipora village of Bijbehara to be a part of massive congregation which was addressed by local pro-freedom leaders and clerics from various sects—Deobandis, Barelvis, Ahlihadith and Jamat-I-Islami (JEI)

Hundreds of women were also part of the rally.   People were seen waving Pakistani flags and chanting pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan, pro-Hizb and pro-LeT slogans.

Muslim Conference Chairman and Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Nabi Sumji besides other local pro-freedom activists also addressed the rally.

In Kulgam district, women assembled in Bugam village while in Shopian, a massive rally of women was held in main town.

Thousands reached Kanelwan area of Bijbehara and held car and bike rally. People of the area have been alleging police excesses during night.

Earlier, nocturnal protests were reported from Kanelwan, Wopzan, Semthan and Jablipora.

Protests were also held in Nagbal area of Shopian against police excesses. People used Public Address Systems of local mosques throughout the night to stop SOG's nocturnal raids.

Reports of protest demonstrations also poured in from Dooru, Verinag, Kokernag, Achabal, Shangus, Tral, Awantipora, Pampore, Mattan, Tahab, Newa and Islamabad town.

A report from Tral said that when people were offering Asr prayer on the call of Hurriyat at main bus stand Tral, forces appeared in huge numbers and tried to stop them, triggering clashes. They said youth resorted to heavy stone pelting on the forces who retaliated with heavy teargas shelling.

At the time of filling of this report, situation in the area was tense.

Reports also said in Hayen village of Tral, clashes erupted when people were offering Asr prayers and forces appeared in the village. Youth resorted to heavy stone pelting on them and forces retaliated with pellets and teargas shells, resulting in injury to three youth.

A Health department official at SDH Tral confirmed they received three pellet injured and one of them has been hit in eye. "He has been shifted to Srinagar," he said.

BANIHAL SHUT

Reports reaching here Banihal town remain closed against civilian killings in Kashmir. The area will observe strike for next four days.

The decision of observing strike was taken by Beopar Mandal Banihal and Jamia Masjid Banihal. They also decided to follow the shutdown calendar of the joint resistance leadership.

MINISTER'S HOUSE ATTACKED

Unidentified persons last night lobbed two petrol bombs at the house of Education Minister and Government spokesman Naeem Akthar in a Civil Lines area of Srinagar. At the time of the incident, nobody was present in the house as the Minister has shifted to Gupkar, the high-security zone in Srinagar, soon after he was assigned the portfolio by the PDP-BJP Government.

This is the first such incident in Srinagar city where house of a ruling legislator was attacked. "We are investigating the matter," a police official said.

Earlier, Akthar's cavalcade was pelted with stones in Sumbal area of Bandipora district, his hometown, while he was traveling to Srinagar after taking stock of the situation there.

A week after the unrest broke out, (on July 17), PDP's assembly member from Pulwama, Muhammad Khalil Bandh received serious injuries when protestors attacked his vehicle in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. Bandh was later shifted to Army's Base hospital and was later shifted to Delhi for advanced treatment. However, the Government has denied that Bandh was attacked, saying he was injured in a road accident. 

After the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, protestors tried to set on fire a building in Kokernag that belonged to sitting MLA Abdur Rahim Rather.

On Sunday, National Conference leader Ifthikar Hussain Misger, who unsuccessfully contested assembly elections against Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag, disassociated himself from mainstream politics.

A petrol bomb was also hurled at an office of Roads and Buildings department at SDA Colony in Bemina area Srinagar on Monday night, officials said.

POLICE PRESS NOTE

"The situation throughout Kashmir remained under control although isolated incidents of stone pelting were reported from Shopian, Kulgam, Awantipora, Sopore and Bandipora.   There were no reports of any injury to anybody today till filing of this report.

 As a precautionary measure Curfew/restrictions were put in place in police stations of North zone Srinagar and Anantnag town."

(WITH ZAHID MAQBOOL/SHEIK NAZIR/GHULAM MUHAMMAD/ SHAHID RAFIQ)

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