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08-16-2010, 11:53 AM
Jammu and Kashmir: DAY 66: Protests continue

16-08-2010
By Gowhar Bhat & Khalid Gul
Srinagar/Islamabad, J & K, India (Greater Kashmir):

Amid curfew, protests against recent killings continued to rock the Valley on Sunday as the present unrest entered into 66th day. Scores of people were injured in the day long protests while police and paramilitary CRPF men allegedly beat up a teenage boy mercilessly in old city injuring him critically.

SRINAGAR

In Srinagar protests broke out in several old city areas as youth poured onto streets raising pro-freedom slogans.

In Nowshera, paramilitary CRPF troopers canned protesters and fired teargas shells to disperse them injuring several of them.

Witnesses said one of the protesters was critically injured after troopers severely thrashed him. They said the troopers beat up 14-year-old Wahid Nazir ruthlessly and trampled him by jackboots.

He was shifted to SKIMS, Soura. An official of the SKIMS said that Wahid had sustained severe head injuries and termed his condition as critical.
After the incident, more people, including many women, came out on roads and staged protests. Forces again resorted to baton charge injuring a few women protesters, witnesses added.

Protests also broke out in Hazartbal and its neighbourhood including Nassem Bagh, Habak and Dagga Park on the Foreshore Road.

Locals were protesting the police atrocities against Namazis at Hazratbal shrine on Saturday. Police and CRPF men baton charged, fired teargas shells on the protesters who pelted stones on them. The forces later resorted to aerial firing to disperse the protesters.

HAZRATBAL SHRINE UNDER SIEGE

Meanwhile, the Hazratbal shrine continued to be under siege for the second consecutive day. Police and CRPF continued to bar people from entering the shrine as a result of which no prayers could be offered on Sunday.

In uptown areas, protests were held at Natipora, Chanapora, Nundreshi Colony and Boatman colony at Bemina, Solina, Chattabal localities where youth also pelted police and CRPF with stones.

Earlier in the day, a heavy deployment of police and CRPF was made across the summer capital, mainly the areas surrounding the Bakshi stadium—the main venue of the official August 15 function.

SOUTH KASHMIR

Following the massive protests that rocked south Kashmir’s Islamabad town, after the killing of a youth in police and CRPF firing on Saturday the authorities on Sunday clamped strict curfew. The curfew was also extended to Bijbehara and Mattan towns.

Earlier people staged night long demonstrations to protest the killing of a youth, Irshad Ahmad Latoo in firing by paramilitary CRPF troopers on Saturday evening at Laizbal on KP road. Four other teenagers had also sustained bullet injuries and are being treated in Srinagar. Thousands participated in the Namaza Jinazah of the slain youth, held during mid night at Mattan Chowk.

After Irshad’s burial thousands of people, including women and children, assembled in their respective localities and then marched towards Laizbal area. Protesters raised pro-freedom slogans and staged a night-long sit-in.

They also burnt tyres and logs of wood on a huge stretch of K.P. Road. The local Mohalla committees had made arrangements for Sehri (dawn time meals for fasting). Later, people offered dawn-time (Fajar) prayers on the roads. Heavy rains later forced the people to move indoors.

In the meantime, huge contingents of police and CRPF Para troopers arrived and while firing hundreds of warning shots at Gulshanabad, Laizbal and Kadipora re-imposed curfew in the civil line area of K.P road as well as the old town. In Khanbal area of the town where the I-Day function was held , announcements were continuously being made from a police vehicle asking people to stay indoors as shoot at sight orders were in place.

Residents of the Kadipora, Mattan Chowk, Lal Chowk, Malakhnag, Sherpora and Janglat Mandi alleged that the CRPF and police didn’t allow the people to offer prayers in mosques. Protests were held in various interior Masjids of the town throughout the day. People were chanting pro-freedom slogans on the loudspeakers.

Later, in the evening after breaking of fast (Iftaar) when the deployment was reduced people came out in large numbers and staged massive pro-freedom demonstrations. Police and CRPF men resorted to tear gas shelling and aerial firing to disperse the protesters who retaliated by pelting stones. Clashes were on in old town and KP road when reports last came in.

Reports of protests were received from Achabal, Shangus, Dooru, Kokernag, Aishmuqam and Sangam.

In Kulgam amid strict restrictions clashes erupted between the protesters and the police. Youth in large numbers assembled in the main market and pelted stones on the police who retaliated by lobbing tear gas canisters and chasing the protesters away.

Reports of protests were received from other parts of the district including Qaimoh, Redwani, Khudwani, Yaripora, Frisal and Achmuji.

Amid severe restrictions protests were witnessed in many areas of Shopian. People sat on the roads and staged protests throughout the day. They also offered prayers on the roads. Several people were also injured in the clashes that erupted between the protesters and the police.

In Pulwama, Kakapora and Pampore massive pro-freedom demonstrations were organized and people staged dharna on the roads. People had also hoisted black flags on their roof tops.

Reports of protests were also received from Tral and Awantipora. In Tral youth fought pitched battles with police and CRPF troopers injuring many of them.

NORTH KASHMIR

Thousands of people from Sopur, Safapora, Saderkoot, Sumbal and other adjoining areas of Bandipore marched towards the house of Abdul Ahad Jan, a policeman who hurled a shoe on the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, at the I-day function at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar on Sunday.

Witnesses said people from all directions reached Jan Mohalla Ajas while as thousands gathered outside his house and staged pro-freedom demonstrations.

At least 23 persons were wounded three of them critically when police and troopers resorted to indiscriminate firing to disperse the procession, which was moving towards Ahad Jan’s house at Ajas, at main Bandipora Chowk.

The critically injured persons were referred to Srinagar while others were treated in district hospital Bandipora.

Protests turned violent when Superintendent of Police Bandipora in Ward no 2 and 3 asked people not to raise pro-freedom slogans in Masjids. Meanwhile, the residents of Bomai Sopur on Sunday accused CRPF troopers of unleashing terror in the area.

“They barged into residential houses and broke the windowpanes in Bandipora locality this morning. They also thrashed woman,” the residents said, adding that they fired teargas shells on the houses without any provocation.

Three civilians who were thrashed and injured by troopers were shifted to SDH Sopur for treatment.

Meanwhile, massive protests were also held in Sopur, Handwara and Kupwara against the killings. Thousands of people also staged protests on Srinagar-Varmul in Pattan area.

A complete shut down was observed in the entire district and traffic remained off the roads. Police used tear smoke shells to disperse protesters at Baroosa triggering stone pelting by protesters.

POLICE VERSION

“Situation in Kashmir Valley remained by and large peaceful though some incidents of stone pelting were reported from K.P Chowk, Islamabad, Brein , Fore Shore, Nishat, Nowshehra, Habak Crossing in Srinagar, Sangrama in Sopur, Khanpora Bridge in Varmul, Ompora in Budgam and in Bandipora Chowk,” a police spokesman said.

“The police and CRPF exercised maximum restraint and chased away the miscreants by using tear smoke and resorting to lathi charge at these places. At Bandipora, stone pelting mob repeatedly attacked a CRPF camp in the market. The CRPF and policemen had to resort to lathi charge and used tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters,” he said.

In the ensuing pitched battle, eight persons were injured and 45 CRPF and policemen also sustained injuries, the spokesman added.