Civilian Killings: Protests and clashes rock Kashmir on Friday

Srinagar: Kashmir Valley witnessed clashes and anti-India protests in different parts after Friday congregation prayers. The joint resistance leadership had called for “peaceful protests” after Friday prayers against the Chadoora civilian killings. Three civilians were killed in forces’ firing near the site of an encounter in Durbugh village of Chadoora.

Government had made heavy deployments of forces to prevent possible protests in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir. Deployments of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been made in sensitive places to prevent any ‘untoward incidents.

Official sources said that no restrictions have been imposed anywhere in the valley. However, adequate security deployments had been made for the day. However, reports said that restriction had been imposed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas of old Srinagar city. Separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Ahmed Shah and Syed Ali Geelani were barred from offering Friday congregational prayers. Geelani and Shah continue to be under house arrest while Mirwaiz also remained under house detention.

Despite heightened security, protests and clashes were reported from Chatabal, Rangreth, Maisuma, Natipora, Rawalpora, Mochou, Kralpora and other parts of Srinagar and its outskirts. Violent clashes were reported from Rangreth where scores of youth assembled near Railway track and attacked government forces with stones. Right from Rawalpora up to Rengreth, a shutdown was observed against the civilian killings. Pertinently, one of the deceased youth killed in Chadoora was the resident of Rengreth area.

At Rawalpora, Mochou and Kralpora, Government forces fired tear-gas shells to disperse the youth protesting against civilian killings.

Government Forces used tear-smoke shells to disperse protesters who raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans in Maisuma locality of Srinagar city. Witnesses told CNS that as Friday prayers ended, scores of youth in Maisuma area assembled at Maisuma Chowk after prayers and started raising pro-freedom slogans. They started marching towards city centre, however were stopped by forces triggering clashes. Forces used tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters while the youth resorted to stone-pelting. The clashes spread to Budshah Chowk where scores of youth targeted government forces with stones.

Reports from apple town Sopore of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district said that at least six youth and a policeman were injured on Friday during clashes. Witnesses said that clashes erupted in the town after forces attempted to disperse youth who had assembled soon after Friday prayers near Markazi jamia Masjid Sopore to protest against civilian killings in Chadoora. They said that forces used teargas shells to disperse the protesters who in turn pelted stones on them.

Minor clashes were reported from Palhalan area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

Clashes erupted between protesters and government forces in Pulwama, Kulgam and Bijbehara towns of south Kashmir while reports of protests came from several other areas.

Reports said that clashes between youth and forces took place in Prichoo and Chaatpora areas of South Kashmir’s Pulwama town. Witnesses said that government forces used tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters while locals alleged that forces damaged dozens of vehicles in the area. “Vehicles parked in the area along roadside were damaged by government forces while pedestrians were assaulted,” said a local to CNS. Eyewitnesses said that forces resorted to aerial firing and teargas shelling to disperse protesters in Pulwama town. Downplaying the incident, a police official said that clashes were minor in nature and protesters were dispersed by police without using any force.

A pro-freedom march was organized in Rajpora area of the Pulwama district after the culmination of Friday congregational prayers. The rally was led by senior separatist leader Abdul Samad Inqalabi. The protesters amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans visited the slain militant Rayees Ahmed’s house and offered prayers for him. A funeral prayers in absentia was also held in Rajpora for the slain militant and the three civilians killed in Forces action in Central Kashmir’s Chadoora town a few day’s back.

Violent clashes were reported from Bijbehara town of Anantnag district while protests were held in Tral town, Yaripora and Khudwani Qaimoh. Witnesses said that massive stone-pelting took place in Bijbehara where a large number of protesting youth shortly after Friday prayers tried to organize a pro-freedom march that was stopped by government forces, thus resulting in clashes. Locals alleged that Forces resorted to intense tear-smoke shelling. Reports said that several protesters were wounded during clashes in Tral town.

A police official said that barring few incidents of stone-pelting situation across Kashmir Valley remained peaceful. (CNS)

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