Srinagar, Aug 05,
KONS: After a blood-soaked week, violent death seemed to have relented a little in Kashmir on Friday, but the forces persisted with their practice of opening fire on protest demonstrations, injuring nearly a score at a number of places and leaving a Sopore youth at death’s door with a bullet in the head, even as defiant protests continued their hold across the valley with curfew unbroken for the eighth day running.
Friday prayers were barred in the valley’s main mosques and imambargahs, including the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, once again today, and Hurriyat leaders like Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Agha Syed Hassan were kept under house arrest, though Syed Ali Shah Geelani was allowed movement for the first time in nearly two months, most of which he had spent in jail.
A panchayat ghar was set ablaze in Baghat, and a government girls’ school torched in Baramulla, while the forces foiled an attack on a police station in Sopore.
Already curfew- bound, the summer capital of Kashmir was further fortified against public movement in view of Friday prayers, with barbed wire and barricades coming up in the city’s commercial hub and many parts of old Srinagar where additional deployments had been made to enforce restrictions.
The special central Rapid Action Force held flag marches in Dalgate, Khanyar, Rainawari and other areas with hundreds of its heavily armed personnel stalking the streets in a show of strength.
But despite curfew and restrictions, protest marches were taken out in the interiors of the old city, with demonstrators winding their way through lanes and by -lanes to the Chamardori mosque chanting slogans against the killing of civilians and state terrorism.
The police and the paramilitary forces barricades the central Jamia Masjid once again, sealing off all routes to the mosque with barbed wire, and confining residents in and around the locality indoors.
At several places, worshippers coming out for Friday prayers were beaten up and sent back indoors to prevent congregations in mosques.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani led a peaceful procession in Hyderpora after Friday prayers, but marchers in many places like Peer bagh and nadir Gund were beaten back with cane charges and tear gas shelling.
Thousands took to the streets in the Chrar-e-Sharief town of the central Budgam district after Friday prayers in protest against the police and the paramilitary forces, and held funeral prayers in absentia for the numerous Kashmiris killed in forces firing in the past weeks.
Protests against the killing of civilians were also held in Moochu, Kralpora, Chandoora and adjoining areas after Friday prayers.
A large curfew- defying procession passed unmolested in Pampore, with the demonstrators marching upto Kadlabal where separatist leaders addressed the gathering.
Scores of protestors were injured in cane-charges and tear gas shelling in the Budgam town where marchers pressed on towards the main chowk despite stiff resistance by the police and the paramilitary forces.
Angered by the forces attack, marchers pelted a furious barrage of stones on the former, triggering off street battles that continued for several hours.
Several of the injured protestors had to be hospitalized because of their condition.
The town patriarch and Hurriyat leader, Agha Syed Hasaan, could not attend Fridayl prayers as he had been placed under house arrest, but the district’s police authorities claimed that congregational prayers had been held in the imambargah and other mosques in the area.
The forces opened fire on a protest march in the Warpora area of Sopore when brick-batting broke out after the crowds retaliated to attempts to break up their demonstration.
Three of the injured were said to be in a serious condition, with bullets having hit Rameez Ahmad Qureshi in the head, Rafiq Ahmad in the neck, and Aarif Ahmad in the leg.
Rameez was shifted to the SKIMS in Srinagar because of his grave head injury, and doctors said that he had been put on a ventilator in a critical condition due to bullet in the cranium. The youth was battling for life, hospital authorities said.
The central part of the town too had witnessed severe clashes when a procession from several localities marching to the main square was broken up with cane charges and tear gas.
The forces raided the town’s fruit mandi once again today, thrashing drivers and smashing a number of vehicles.
The uniformed personnel were learnt to have snatched ignition keys from the vehicles and also beaten up the labourers working in the fruit centre, besides destroying a portion of the market’s stocks.
Government forces went on a rampage in the Rafiabad area of the northern township while chasing peaceful protestors and smashed the window panes of several houses, locals said.
Soldiers severely beat of two youth leaving them seriously injured, and one of the victims, Riyaz Ahmad, had to be rushed to the SKIMS in Srinagar in a critical condition.
A large procession taken out in another part of the town after Friday prayers culminated peacefully at the old Eidgah, reports said.
Police rounded up eight youth in the town and broke up a peaceful march with cane charges in Papchan where a protest demonstration had been taken out after Friday prayers.
Half a dozen persons were injured in the Kralpora area of Kupwara when government forces fell upon a curfew defying march with cane charges and teargas shelling and aerial firing.
One of the injured victims identified as Muhammad yousuf had to be hospitalized in a serious condition.
Marches were broken-up with force in surrounding villages of the town. Clashes were also reported from Handwara and Kunangam where curfew defying processions were beaten back with teargas shelling.
Kulgam too witnessed clashes where government forces smashed windowpanes of houses and shuttered shops in various areas besides beating up residents.
Protest demonstrations against killing
Curfew remained in force in Anantnag (Islamabad), Shopian and Pulwama.
Meanwhile police today said that mischievous elements set afire a Govt Girls School in the Kalantar area of Baramulla and torched a Panchyat Ghar in Baghat Kanipora.