The J&K government on Friday imposed strict curbs in various Srinagar areas to thwart the proposed 'freedom march' to Governor's office Raj Bhawan here, even as more than 50 protestors were injured in forces' action across Kashmir during clashes that broke out after congregational Friday prayers, reports and witnesses said. Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir for the 98th consecutive day. At least 94 people including two cops have been killed so far while over 14000 injured in action by forces during the past 98 days. More than 1000 people have suffered injuries due to pellets in their eyes, with a vast majority of them on the verge of losing their eyesight.
Reports said there was a heavy deployment forces on streets of Srinagar, including city center Lal Chowk, while roads leading to Raj Bhawan were sealed with concertina wire and iron barricades. Strict curbs were in place on movement of people at Dalgate, and also at Gupkar Road, to prevent people from marching towards Raj Bhawan which is located at Cheshmashahi on the foothills of Zabarwan Mountain Range. Kashmir's resistance camp had called for march to Raj Bhawan on Friday in its weekly protest calendar.
Reports said due to strict restrictions, there was almost zero movement of traffic on The Boulevard road.
The police had imposed strict curbs in old Srinagar areas that include Nowhatta, Maharajgunj, Gojwara, Khanyar and Rajouri Kadal. Witnesses said intense clashes broke out at Soura, Anchar after Friday congregational prayers. Forces used dozens of teargas shells and pellets on the protestors in which 25 youth sustained injuries, with one of them hit by pellets in eyes, they said.
Reports of protests after Friday prayers poured in from Rambagh, Barzulla, Hyderpora, Peerbagh, Lasjan and Nowgam areas of uptown Srinagar.
NO PRAYERS AT JAMIA MASJID AGAIN
The government sealed old Srinagar areas while heavy deployment was made outside Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta to prevent people from proceeding towards the grand masjid for offering Friday prayers. This is for the 14th consecutive week that police barred Friday congregational prayers at the historic Masjid.
At least 15 people were wounded in protests and clashes that erupted in various South Kashmir areas on Friday.
Reports said a pro-freedom protest demonstration was taken out after Friday prayers in Tahab village of Pulwama district. "The forces, however, intercepted the procession, triggering clashes," they said. They said the forces lobbed shells and fired pellets, resulting in injuries to at least 10 people. Massive pro-freedom rallies were also taken out in Kakapora and Ruhmoo areas of Pulwama district, after Friday prayers.
Clashes also erupted in Khudwani area of Qaimoh in Kulgam district after Friday prayers. "Youth pelted stones on the forces who retaliated by lobbing shells and firing pellets, resulting in injuries to at least five youth," a report said.
A massive pro-freedom rally, which was led by Tehreek-i-Hurriyat District President for Anantnag, Mir Hafizullah, was also taken out in Marhama village in Sangam area of Bijbehara.
A youth Manzoor Ahmad Lone, 25, from Lelhar- Kakapora was booked under Public Safety Act and shifted to Kotbalwal Jail in Jammu. Reports said after evening prayers, a pro-freedom protest march was held at Anantnag town.
Amid massive pro-freedom protests in Old Town Baramulla after Friday prayers, youth were seen waving flags of Pakistan and China, witnesses and reports said. This is for the first time that flags of China were waved during a protest march in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, reports of clashes between police and youth came in from various parts of Baramulla district. In Baramulla town, a joint Friday prayer was offered in Qadeem Eidgah. Soon after the prayers, a massive pro-freedom protest march was taken out, but as the protesters marched through the area, police lobbed scores of teargas shells in a bid to disperse them. The police action triggered severe clashes which continued till late evening. Four youth suffered minor injuries during these clashes, a report said. Clashes between police and youth took place in Saloosa, Palhallan and Nowpora in Wagoora area. Reports said at least 10 youth sustained injuries in clashes at Saloosa village after forces foiled a joint freedom rally of people from Nowpora, Wagoora and Saloosa. Locals in Nowpora alleged that police ransacked several residential houses and damaged windowpanes. They alleged windshields of several vehicles parked in the area were also smashed by cops.
In Palhallan area, a protest march was carried out soon after Friday prayers ended. The protesters tried to march towards the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, but police deployed prevented them, triggering clashes.
Reports from Sopore said Friday prayers were held at two places only—New Colony Sopore and Jamia Masjid Sopore. Massive pro-freedom rallies were held at both these places which ended peacefully. Reports said forces used tear-gas and pellets on protestors at Hygam, Sopore in which five youth sustained injuries.
Reports from Bandipora district said clashes erupted at Gulshan Chowk after police foiled a pro-freedom rally which was scheduled to be carried out after Friday congregational prayers from Jamia Masjid Bandipora. Witnesses said soon after Friday congregational prayers, people tried to assemble in Gulshan Chowk but police foiled their attempt by resorting to teargas shelling, triggering clashes.
Reports said youth clashed with police by hurling stones and rocks at them in Plan area who responded by firing several teargas shells and pellets.
Meanwhile, residents of Ajas, Bazipora and Chimpenzpora villages offered Friday congregational prayers in Eidgah Ajas. Witnesses said after culmination of Friday prayers, people offered funeral prayers in-absentia for Srinagar boy Junaid who was killed in forces' action on October 7. Later they held a peaceful rally in Ajas Chowk amid pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering. The protestors later, dispersed peacefully.
Reports of mild clashes came in from Onagam, Sonerwani and Papchan areas of Bandipora. Witnesses said clashes also erupted in Hajin town after Friday congregational prayers. However, there were no reports of any injuries. Reports from Kupwara district said protests broke out after Friday prayers at Trehgam, Lalpora, Ganapora, Natnusa and Kralpora
Reports said intense clashes broke out at Beerwah, Adina, Magam, Narbal and Sozeth areas of Budgam district.
Clashes erupted after Friday prayers at Berewah town where protestors marched towards martyrs' graveyard and hurled stones on a local police station. Forces fired teargas shells to push back the protesting youth. Meanwhile, two forces vehicles came under heavy stone-pelting in the town late in the evening. Forces resorted to heavy 'pava' shelling to disperse the protestors in which at least four protestors sustained injuries.
Reports said in Narbal, clashes continued till evening.
Reports from Ganderbal district said after Friday prayers, locals assembled outside Jamia Masjids at Baroosa and Wakura and staged peaceful pro-freedom protests. Locals at Beehama town said they were not allowed to offer Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid Beehama market for the 14th consecutive Friday.
A group of youth resorted to stone pelting at Kangan market. However, forces swung into action and chased them away. Locals at Kangan said forces used 'pava' shells to chase stone-pelters. Many elderly people complained throat irritation and coughing due to 'pava' shells.
SHUTDOWN IN BANIHAL
A complete shutdown was observed in Banihal in Jammu region against civilian killings in Kashmir. All shops, commercial establishments remained closed for the day, reports said.
According to a statement issued by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir, barring stray incidents of stone pelting, situation across the valley remained by and large peaceful today. "Adequate deployment was made in the sensitive areas across the Valley as a precautionary measure," it said. The statement said that incidents of stone pelting were reported from Sabzi Mandi in Srinagar, Naina Chowk in Anantnag, Khudwani Bypass in Kulgam and Tarzoo, Main Chowk in Sopore. "At these places, miscreants in their attempts to disrupt the situation assembled on roads and pelted stone on police and security force deployments," it said. The statement said that greater movement of people and vehicular traffic was observed in Srinagar city as also in other parts of the valley. "Public transport was also seen on various roads connecting towns and villages," it said adding Muharram processions were taken out from various places today as well which culminated peacefully. The statement said that in "its continuous drive to curb the activities of the trouble-mongers police arrested 63 such individuals during past 24 hours involved in disrupting the public order in different parts of the valley."
PRE-PAID MOBILE SERVICE BEING RESTORED
In an official statement, police said "with the improvement in the situation prepaid mobile services are being restored from tonight (Friday)."
(With inputs Altaf Baba, Eijaz –ul-Haq Bhat, Ghulam Muhammad)