More than 70 people including a few women were injured in forces' action across Kashmir on Wednesday as people continued to organize pro-freedom rallies and processions. With the fresh injuries, the number of injured in the past 89 days of uprising triggered by the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani has swelled up to 14,000. Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir while markets opened in the evening after 5 pm on the relaxation call given by the joint resistance leadership.
Reports said at least 30 people sustained pellet and teargas shell injuries in the forces' action at Mandigham in Handwara area of Kupwara district. Locals were protesting against the arrest of three brothers and alleged vandalism by forces in the area. Forces allegedly broke windowpanes and doors of many residential houses and as people staged protests, the forces fired pellets and teargas shells on the protesters, resulting in injuries to 30 people including three women. Reports said protests and clashes erupted in different areas of Kupwara district that include main town, Malik Mohalla, Rigipora, Mir Mohalla, Trehgam, Nutnoosa and Shumnag. At Gugloosa, youth targeted the house of a local magistrate.
Meanwhile, at least 20 persons were injured during clashes between forces and youth in Gulshan Chowk area of Bandipora district. Witnesses said youths pelted stones at an army convoy in Gulshan Chowk where the soldiers in turn resorted to aerial firing to disperse the protestors. They said army fired several shots in the air while police resorted to heavy teargas shelling and pellet firing to break up the protests. Witnesses said at least 20 persons suffered pellet injuries during the clashes. A local scribe was also injured after he suffered a pellet injury in his left leg and right foot while performing his professional duties. They said two youths were also picked up by police during the clashes. Police, according to witnesses, allegedly ransacked several residential houses after clashes in Plan area.
"Police damaged property, broke windowpanes and also damaged several vehicles in the area," locals said. They said police fired a bullet at Maruti-800 vehicle that pierced through its windscreen and also damaged its backside windowpane. "The vehicle was parked outside a residential house in Plan area and fortunately no one was inside it." Reports said a government employee who works as an electrician in Power Development Department was yesterday arrested in Hajin town. He has been identified as Abdul Ahad Basoo (57), resident of Hajin. They said 14 youth—all residents of Hajin were arrested by Hajin Police in Rajbagh area of Srinagar on Wednesday on charges of stone-pelting. Sources said eight youth have been lodged in Hajin police station and six in Sumbal police station.
At least 12 people, including a policeman, were injured after forces tried to foil a pro-freedom rally in Arwani area of Bijbehara in Anantnag district. Reports and witnesses said that clashes erupted in Arwani village after forces foiled a proposed rally-cum-unity conference of various sects, allegedly vandalized houses and beat up inmates.
"Police and paramilitary forces raided the village and beat up whosoever came their way. Youth hurled rocks at the forces, triggering fierce clashes which continued throughout the day," they said. Forces lobbed shells and used pellet gun.
"At least 12 people were injured due to pellets and assault," locals said.
Sources said a policeman was also injured during the clashes.
Locals alleged that forces also set on fire paddy straws and some timber in band-saw machine unit in the village. However, the defiant people held at the rally late at around 4:00 pm which was addressed by Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) district president for Anantnag, Mir Hafzullah. He appealed people to remain steadfast and also be aware of various "agencies hell bent upon creating rift between people on one pretext or the other." Meanwhile, violent clashes also erupted in Bijbehara town in the evening. "Forces lobbed shells to disperse the protesting youth," locals said.
They said forces on Tuesday night raided the house of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) Tehsil president for Pahalgam, Riyaz Ahmad in Fohar village in Akkad area and vandalized the property and beat up inmates. Riyaz, according to reports, was not present at the house as he is evading arrest. Forces also allegedly conducted midnight raids in Dhobi Mohalla Kadalbal area of Pampore and damaged property. The incident triggered protests in the area in the morning. "The protesters also blocked the Srinagar-Jammu highway for an hour," witnesses said.
Reports said intense clashes broke out in Kanihama village of Magam, in Budgam district where forces chased youth through the paddy fields. Forces fired dozens of teargas shells at the protesting youth in which five sustained injuries. Meanwhile, locals of Makhdam Mohall and Mazhama alleged forces' atrocities stating that many residential houses were damaged by them. Similar reports poured in from Wani Mohalla. Reports said heavy deployment was made at various entry points in Kawoosa and Khalisa Kawoosa areas of the district. Reports from Ganderbal district said that a group of youth resorted to stone-pelting on Kangan-Ganderbal road at Sarch Nunar. However police reached the spot and chased them away. Reports said youth resorted to stone pelting at Ganderbal-Soura 90-ft road and blocked it near Ahmadnagar. Police reached the spot and removed the stones and wooden logs.
While there were no reports of any clashes or protests during the day in Srinagar, reports of evening clashes poured in from various old Srinagar areas that include Nawa Kadal, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Khanyar and Saraf Kadal. Meanwhile, shops opened in Srinagar including old city areas after 5 pm on the call of joint resistance leadership. An increased movement of pedestrians and private vehicles was observed at Lal Chowk and other major markets in the evening, witnesses said.
According to a statement issued by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir, the situation across the valley remained by and large peaceful although a couple of stray incidents of stone pelting were reported from Arwani in Anantnag and from main Chowk Bandipora. According to the statement, during the day normal flow of traffic and movement of people was observed in Srinagar and other parts of the valley. "Vendors in good numbers were on the streets. Normal movement of vehicles was seen in the main towns and on the inter district roads of the valley," it said. The statement said that the miscreants involved in the incidents of setting on fire two Autorikshaws yesterday in Srinagar are being identified and adequate compensation is being paid to the auto owners. Meanwhile, according to the statement, in its continuous and sustained drive against the trouble mongers police during last 24 hours arrested 76 such people involved in various offences of disturbing public order in different parts of the valley.
(With additional reporting Eijaz-ul-Haq Bhat, Sheikh Nazir, Gulam Muhammad)