A woman died allegedly due to suffocation caused by intense teargas shelling by government forces in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Tuesday, even as Kashmir observed a complete shutdown for the second consecutive day to mourn the killing of eight civilians in action by forces on the polling day on Sunday, reports and witnesses said. Youth fought pitched battles with the forces at many places across Kashmir, they said.
A woman died due to suffocation allegedly caused by intense teargas shelling by government forces in Tahab village in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Tuesday.
Witnesses said Shameema Akther wife of Nazir Ahmed was busy at her home when she started coughing. "She complained of chest pain. And within minutes, she collapsed and fainted," they said. "The area was witnessing massive clashes and forces were using teargas shells to disperse the protestors."
Locals said the victim was immediately rushed to District Hospital where doctors declared her as brought dead.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, SSP Pulwama Rayees Bhat said: "We also came to know through locals about her death. But the cause of death is not known. Let the medical report come. Then only we would be able to say how she died."
One of the family members of the deceased alleged that she felt suffocation due to a thick cover of smoke that enveloped her house. "We thought she has fainted, but she had died," he said.
As the word about woman's death spread, massive protests erupted at Tahab and other adjoining areas. Protesters accused the government forces of resorting to indiscriminate use of 'Pava' and teargas shells.
Locals alleged that forces ransacked many residential houses and also broke the windowpanes.
SHUTDOWN CRIPPLES LIFE
Normal life remained crippled across Kashmir for the second straight day Tuesday in wake of strike call given by the joint resistance leadership—Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik— to mourn the eight civilian killings by forces on polling day in Central Kashmir on Sunday.
All schools, colleges and commercial establishments remained closed while few private vehicles could be seen plying on roads. Reports said intense clashes between youth and government forces broke out at Nowhatta, Rainwari, Kaka Sarai, Kathidarwaza, Safa Kadal, Gojwara and Sekidafar, Batamaloo, Qamarwari and Bemina areas in Srinagar.
"Patients and attendants at emergency ward of SMHS hospital complained of irritation due to frequent use of 'pava' shells by forces at Kaka Sarai area," locals said.
Witnesses said youth clashed with forces personnel at Rawalpora, Wanabal and Rangreth areas on Srinagar outskirts. "Police used Pava shells and stun grenades to disperse the protestors who offered stiff resistance and retaliated with heavy stone-pelting. The clashes were on till late evening," they added.
Reports from Central Kashmir's Budgam district said an eerie calm prevailed in the entire district. However, Aripanthan village near Beerwah witnessed clashes between forces and youth. "The clashes erupted after the government forces picked up some youth in the area. As the word spread youth came out on streets and started pelting stones. Force personnel retailed with teargas shelling to disperse the protesters. However, protesters engaged the forces and fought pitched battles with them. Demonstrators were demanding immediate release of the arrested youth."
"One the detained youths is elder brother of Farooq Ahmed, who sustained bullet injury in 2016 uprising and is paralyzed. He was driving a tractor when forces detained him," locals said.
Meanwhile, thousands of mourners visited the residences of youth killed in forces' firing on Sunday.
Posters featuring slain youth Amir's photographs with pro-freedom slogans inscribed on it were also pasted in Dadompora area of Chadoora, witnesses said. Many pro-freedom activists visited the families of slain youth.
Police have registered a case after a vehicle of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youth wing leader was set ablaze in Charar-e-Sharif area in central Kashmir's Budgam district last night. The vehicle, bearing registration No. DL 3C 4061) was torched by unknown persons near Bada Talaow.
The Station House Officer (SHO) Charar-e-Sharief Waseem Ahmed said, "The incident happened on the intervening night of April 10 and April 11. The vehicle belongs to PDP's youth leader. We have registered a case under FIR number 27/2017."
Reports from South Kashmir said youth resorted to intense stone pelting at forces deployed at Government High School Khiram. "Forces stormed into residential houses, broke windowpanes and also hurled abuses at the inmates. The forces also fired teargas shells, which landed in one of the cowsheds, triggering fire," locals alleged. The fire was later doused.
Reports said large contingents of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) remained deployed at Pampore, main town Pulwama and Awantipora areas to thwart any protests in the area.
BHADERWAH, KISHTWAR SHUT
Meanwhile, Bhadarwah and Kishtwar towns in Chenab Valley observed a shutdown on Tuesday to mourn the killing of eight Kashmiri youth by the government forces on Sunday in central Kashmir, and against the attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Jammu. The shutdown call was given by the Anjuman-e-Islamia Bhadarwah and Imam Jamia Masjid Kishtwar.
Shops, business establishments and some private schools of a particular community remained closed in the twin towns.
"We had given peaceful bandh call to lodge our protest against innocent civilian killings in Kashmir, attack on Rohingya Muslim refugees in Jammu and increasing influence of RSS-backed government employees in Chenab Valley. Government instead of initiating talks with stakeholders is using oppressive tactics to handle the situation. Muslims are being harassed on one or other pretext. We are being pushed to the wall," said President Anjuman-e-Islamia Bhadarwah, Pervaiz Ahmed Sheikh.
Authorities in wake of the shutdown call had made elaborate security arrangements in all the major towns of the district, including Doda, Thathri, Gandoh, Kahara and Bhadarwah.
(With Tahir Nadeem Khan Yusafzai)