Barely a couple of hours after government announced lifting of curfew from entire Srinagar district after 18 days of continued clampdown, hundreds of people on Tuesday hit the streets and staged massive anti-India and pro-freedom slogans against the civilian killings that took place during the ongoing Valley unrest. People, mostly youth, took out two major protest rallies from Old Srinagar areas but police foiled them with full force, resorting to massive teargas shelling in which at least 15 youth sustained injuries.
On Tuesday morning, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar announced that there will be no curfew or restrictions in any part of Srinagar. The resistance camp too had announced relaxation in shutdown after 2 pm so that people could buy essentials. However, soon after DC's announcement, almost entire Srinagar erupted with massive protests and clashes.
Witnesses said youth in large numbers offered Zuhr prayers on road in an old city locality and later organized a massive protest rally which was joined by over 1000 youth who later decided to march from various areas to reach Lal Chowk.
The protestors passed through Rajouri Kadal and Saraf Kadal and took the Babademb road to reach Lal Chowk. When the rally reached near Babademb, it was intercepted by policemen who fired dozens of tear gas shells to quell the protest demonstration. At least nine youth were injured in the police action here. One youth sustained tear-gas injury in his head and was shifted to SMHS hospital where his condition was stated to be "stable."
The protestors later dispersed peacefully.
However, youth clashed with forces in areas including Safa Kadal, Qamarwari, Bemina, Kawdara, Saraf Kadal, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Hawal, Dargah Hazratbal, Eidgah, Habba Kadal, Rainawari and many other places in Srinagar during the day. Protests and clashes were also witnessed at Nowgam, Hyderpora, Peerbagh, Barzulla, Natipora and Chanapora areas.
A group of protestors also tried to attack a police post in Noorbagh, police said. However, the cops fired a few tear gas shells to disperse the attackers, it said.
Witnesses said youth also asked shopkeepers not to open their shops. "Strike will continue," the youth told the shopkeepers in various old city areas where at least 10 youth sustained injuries in day-long clashes with forces.
Witnesses said hundreds of youth assembled at Safa Kadal area at 3 pm and decided to march towards Lal Chowk amid pro-freedom sloganeering. The protest rally passed peacefully through Karangar. At Shaheedgunj, policemen decided to stay away from the rally. The rally crossed Shaheedgunj also and when it reached near Jehangir Chowk, a heavy contingent of police present on the flyover lobbed teargas shells at the protestors and pushed them back.
Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar, Amit Kumar said that police exercised maximum restraint while dealing with the protestors at Jehangir Chowk. "The protestors also resorted to stone pelting, but we fired only a few tear gas shells and ensured they are pushed back. They later dispersed peacefully," he said.
Witnessed said that a group of youth also hurled stones at the CRPF men guarding the main entrance of DC office Srinagar at Tankipora. However, they later dispersed peacefully.
Medical Superintendent of SMHS, Dr Nazir Choudhary, said 20 injured were admitted in the hospital. "None of the injured is serious," he said.
Meanwhile, residents of Hawal Srinagar alleged that CRPF men barged into their homes and ransacked belongings.
"The CRPF men also broke windowpanes of many houses and also hurled abuses at the inmates," they said.
In evening clashes, witnesses said, youth hurled rocks and stones at police station Rainawari in old Srinagar. Police responded with tear gas shelling. Clashes were going on there till late evening.
Dozens of people sustained injuries in fierce clashes in South Kashmir areas, even as curfew continued to be in place for the 18th consecutive day.
In Malakhanag area of Old Town Islamabad (Anantnag), six people including a girl sustained pellet injuries after police used force on protesters who defied curfew in the afternoon.
Youth clashed with policemen who lobbed teargas shells and used pellet guns to disperse the protesters, injuring six of them. The injured were being treated at District hospital Anantnag.
Locals alleged that policemen chased the protesters and later indiscriminately fired pellets in by-lanes of Malkhnag. "I was standing at the entrance of my house when policemen pointed shotguns towards us and fired indiscriminately," said the injured girl, pleading not to be identified.
Curfew was lifted in the entire town at around 5 pm. However, in areas falling under Janglat Mandi police post, the deployment was withdrawn only at 3.30 pm. Youth, however, came out and attacked police post Janglatmandi with stones and bricks.
Late in the evening, fierce clashes erupted in many old town areas which were on till last reports came in.
Curfew remained in place in Bijbehara town also. However, amid curfew, clashes erupted at several places. Many people sustained injuries. Reports of protests and clashes were also received from Achabal area.
"Several people have been rounded up by police in the area," locals said.
Kaimoh area of Kulgam district remained tense. People defied curfew and clashed with forces at several places like Khudwani, Redwani, Rampora and Gufbal.
Strict curfew was clamped in Pulwama and Kakpora, Pampore, Awantipora towns of Pulwama district.
However, protest demonstrations were held in several Pulwama villages including Tahab and Ruhama.
Protest demonstrations were held in Tral town and adjoining villages.
Protests also took place at Narbal, Beerwah and Panzinaar areas of Budgam district.
At Wussan Kangan, youth took to streets and staged protests against the detention of a youth. Protests and stone pelting were also witnessed at Manigam-byepass in Ganderbal district. Clashes were also reported in Baroosa-Nar in Ganderbal. Massive clashes were reported from Rangreth area of Budgam district. Youth resorted to heavy stone pelting at the forces and also blocked roads. Clashes were going on till late evening in the area.
Following the relaxation call announced by the resistance camp, people in Baramulla town were seen busy purchasing essential commodities on Tuesday afternoon. However, in Pattan and Palhallan areas of the district, business establishments remained closed even after 2 pm. In Pattan area, as soon as shopkeepers started to open their shops, some youths started pelting stones, leading to closure of the markets. In border town Uri, all shops remained closed.
Major markets in Sopore opened after 18 days after 2 pm on the call of resistance leadership, but youth in many areas like Arampora, Batpora resorted to stone pelting on the forces.
A police spokesman said the situation throughout Kashmir Valley remained peaceful and under control on Tuesday. "Curfew was lifted from all the towns/areas of entire valley this morning except Anantnag where it was lifted in the afternoon. Shops opened at many places and traffic also plied. There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley although some stray stone pelting incidents were reported from a few places. All post-paid mobile services are being restored tonight," he said.