Amid complete shutdown for the 20th consecutive day, Srinagar areas once again erupted on Thursday with youth resorting to massive clashes with police and paramilitary forces against the recent civilian killings. Clashes were also witnessed in South Kashmir areas where authorities had imposed curfew in three-districts—Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama.
Two youth had a narrow escape when they were forced to jump into river Jhelum after being chased by forces in Sangam areas of South Kashmir's Anantnag district. The condition of one of the two youths is stated to be critical.
In day-long clashes across Kashmir, more than 40 youth sustained tear-gas shell and pellet injuries. The district authorities had lifted restrictions from old Srinagar areas while deployment of forces was also very thin. But, youth in small groups, placed rocks and logs on roads to prevent movement of forces' vehicles. In the afternoon, a massive protest march was taken out from interiors of Nowhatta area. The procession passed through some areas and when it reached near Bohri Kadal, police and paramilitary forces intercepted it and lobbed dozens of tear-gas shells to disperse the protestors. The protesting youth retaliated with bricks and stones, triggering massive clashes that spread to other nearby areas including Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Pandan, Nowhatta and Kawdara. Clashes continued in these areas till late evening.
Clashes also took place in Khanyar and Rainawari areas in which some youth were also injured.
Witnesses said another procession from old Srinagar managed to reach near Barbarshah and tried to march towards Lal Chowk, but police and paramilitary forces stopped it. Forces fired dozens of teargas shells and pellets at the protestors near Barbarshah Bridge in which four youth sustained injuries.
Clashes between youth and forces took place on 90-feet Road at Soura, Brein Nishat, Hawal, Alamgaribazar, Nowshehra, and Kathidarwaza while pro-freedom slogans were reverberating from masjids in areas including Lal Bazar, Soura and Nowshera.
Protests also erupted in Safakadal, Cement Bridge, Qamarwari and Noorbagh areas in the afternoon. Clashes between youth and forces were going on till late evening.
Massive clashes erupted in Batamaloo area where locals alleged excesses by forces personnel including J&K policemen. Officials of Astan-e-Aaliya Sheikh Dawood (RA) Batamaloo alleged that a police team barged into the masjid and "seized audio-system including costly microphones." Police sources said the masjid loudspeakers were used for "pro-freedom sloganeering which instigates youth to throw stones at forces." The police action however evoked strong resentment by locals and youth hit the streets and staged pro-freedom demonstrations. Police resorted to massive tear-gas and pellet firing to disperse the protestors and in the ensuing police action, four youth sustained injuries. A few youth have already been detained in Batamlaoo by police on charges of stone-pelting. A torch procession was taken out in Nowgam area of uptown Srinagar late in the evening while clashes took place in Natipora, Chanapora, Barzulla and Rambagh areas. Meanwhile, female folk from Mughal Mohalla and other areas of Chattabal took out a procession against what they called atrocities by police. They alleged that during nocturnal raids, police not only harassed and thrashed them but also dragged youth from houses and lodged them in police stations.
At 9 pm, a torch and candlelight procession was held at Abi-Guzzar here amid pro-freedom slogans.
In the evening, five youth sustained pellet injuries after forces resorted to pellet firing during protests in Hyderpora area.
Dozens sustained injuries, most of them due to pellets in fierce clashes between protesters and youth in South Kashmir areas, even as curfew continued to be in place. Two youth were injured when they jumped into river Jhelum after being chased by forces near Sangam Anantnag.
The forces lobbed teargas shells and chased the youth after which two of them—in order to avoid the forces' wrath—jumped into river Jhelum, witnesses said.
The duo was later rescued in an injured condition and shifted to SDH Bijbehara. One of the critically-injured has been referred to Srinagar hospital while the other is undergoing treatment at the SDH itself, a doctor said.
In Shopian town, restrictions remained in place. However, people came out and held massive pro-freedom demonstrations. Hundreds of youth, riding bikes and waving Pakistani flags, held a rally throughout the town, witnesses said.
A Pakistani flag was later hoisted at Gole Chowk, they said. Protests took place in peripheries of Shopian too.
Curfew continued in Kulgam and Kaimoh and adjoining Khudwani. However, youth defied it at several places and held protests. Few youth were injured in clashes that erupted in Kulgam town.
Curfew also continued in Anantnag town, but late in the evening, youth came out and held protest demonstrations. Fierce clashes later erupted at Lal Chowk and Khanbal areas. Three youth sustained pellet injuries at Khanbal, reports said.
After evening prayers, every mosque in Islamabad town and other South Kashmir areas reverberated with pro-freedom slogans while Taranas were also being played.
Massive protests were reported from various parts of Pulwama in the evening. Witnesses said protestors attacked a CRPF camp at Haal area where forces retaliated with pellets and tear-gas shells in which 10 youth sustained pellet injuries, one of them critical.
An elderly man identified as Ali Muhammad Dar of Haal was allegedly beaten to pulp by forces. "I was not part of the protest, and yet they beat me. My foot got fractured," he told Greater Kashmir over phone.
A medico at District Hospital Pulwama said they received 15 victims with pellets. Two of them had serious eye injuries and were referred to Srinagar, he said.
Witnesses said protestors also attacked CRPF camp at Tahab and in retaliation at least 10 people got injured.
Locals said CRPF men barged into their houses and damaged household belongings and windowpanes.
"The CRPF men also damaged the house of BMO Ramesh and dozens of other residential houses late night," they alleged.
Reports said clashes also erupted in Tral town of Pulwama district. At least four persons sustained injuries after forces used pellet guns to disperse the protesters.
Clashes were witnessed amid complete shutdown in Budgam district areas. Mild clashes were reported from Aripanthan, Magam, where a few youth sustained injuries. Late night protests were held in Beerwah town.
Officials said at least six bullet and four pellet injuries have been reported from the district over the past 20 days. Reports said curfew-like restrictions were in place in Ompora area while clashes were also reported from Humhama.
A protest demonstration was also held in proper town Budgam against the civilian killings. In Gandrebal district, protests were reported from Pandach crossing, Baroosa, Kurhama, Beehama, Haripora.
Protests and clashes were reported from Azadgunj, Baramulla. Forces resorted to pellet firing in which two youth sustained injures. A youth sustained "shell-type" injury on his back and was later referred to Srinagar. In Sopore, a complete shutdown was observed for the 20th consecutive day. Late in the evening, a massive torch procession was taken out from old town Baramulla and after passing through various areas, concluded in Civil Lines. There was no untoward incident.
CURFEW ACROSS KASHMIR TODAY
Official sources said curfew will remain in place in 10 districts of Kashmir on Friday. "There will be curfew and restrictions in all areas of Srinagar district tomorrow," Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Lone told Greater Kashmir.
Officials said the decision has been taken in view of Friday and the call for Jamia Chalo by the resistance camp.
A police spokesman said the situation throughout the Kashmir valley "remained peaceful and under control today."
"There was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley. Except Anantnag town, there were no restrictions anywhere in the Kashmir valley. Minor instances of stone pelting were reported from some places," he said.
SKIMS MEDICOS HOLD PROTEST
Dozens of doctors assembled at SKIMS, Soura and led a protest march against use of force and civilian killings in Kashmir. The protest was led by Dr. Burhan Bazaz.
(WITH INPUTS FROM SHOWKAT DAR FROM PULWAMA, ALTAF BABA FROM BARAMULLA, M A DAR FROM BUDGAM)