PROTESTS, CLASHES AT MANY PLACES; SEVERAL INJURED
Srinagar/Bandipora, Mar 4: Around a dozen persons including a Central Reserve Police Force personnel were injured in protests that erupted at several places across the valley against the death of Mudasir Ahmad Malla of Pulwama in Hyderabad, while a separatist-sponsored shutdown paralyzed normal life in Kashmir.
Mutahida Majlis-i-Mashawarat (MMM), an amalgam of separatist groups, had Sunday called for a complete shutdown in the Valley to protest the death. They have said Mudasir was murdered for leading the funeral prayers of Muhammad Afzal Guru and the police were misleading the people about the circumstances of his death.
Shops, other business establishments across the valley remained closed and public transport was largely off the roads. However, some private vehicles were seen plying on some roads. The work in government offices was also badly affected due to the strike as most employees could not reach their destinations because of non-availability of public transport.
Massive protests broke out in Pulwama district amid severe restrictions. Police and paramilitary forces wearing riot gears were deployed in strength to thwart any protests in Pulwama town, Kakpora and other adjoining areas. However, besides Parigam, massive protests erupted in Newa, Ruhmu, Poorwa, Goosu and Kakpora.
The protesters, reports said, pelted stones on the government forces who retaliated by tear gas shelling and baton charge. In Newa village, people alleged that forces went berserk after protests. “The forces barged into several houses, beat up the inmates and smashed the window panes of the houses,” locals alleged. Reports said that stone pelting also erupted in Pulwama town.
Complete shutdown was also observed in Shopian, Islamabad (Anantnag) and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir. All shops, business establishments were closed and the government offices witnessed thin attendance. The transport was off the roads and forces were deployed in huge numbers in every nook and corner of south Kashmir to thwart protests.
In Srinagar, despite heavy deployment of forces, protests erupted at half a dozen places and youth clashed with police and CRPF. The clashes erupted in Hari Singh High Street and old city areas of Kawdara,Hawal, Rajouri Kadal, Nowhatta and Eidgah.
Reports said that groups of youth in these localities took to streets and denounced the ‘murder’ of Mudasir. They were chanting pro-freedom slogans and demanding probe into his death.
Reports said that groups of youth took to streets in Hawal and held a protest demonstration against the death of Mudasir. They were raising pro-freedom slogans, however the protestors were intercepted by the forces. The forces’ action triggered violent clashes that continued for at least two hours.
Violent clashes were also reported from Eidgah area of Safakadal. Reports said that clashes erupted in the area in the morning after a huge contingent of forces tried to disrupt a demonstration. The youth pelted stones on forces and the pitched battles continued for whole day. An unconfirmed report said that protestors tried to set ablaze a TATA Sumo in Eidgah area.
Reports said eight people including a CRPF personnel received minor injuries in clashes. However, police said that no civilian was injured.
Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Syed Aashiq Hussain Bukhari said that protests erupted at three places. “One CRPF personnel was injured and city was by and large normal,” Bukhari said.
No reports of protests were received from civil lines areas of Srinagar, however forces in huge numbers were deployed on roads to thwart any protest demonstration.
In the Budgam and Ganderbal districts of central Kashmir, the strike paralyzed normal life. Shops and other business establishments in these districts remained closed and transport was off the roads.
In Budgam, people tried to take out protests in main town and Chrar-i-Sharief, however forces foiled the attempts.
Reports reaching here from Ganderbal said minor incidents of stone pelting were reported from highway town Kangan in which a civilian received minor head injury. Officials at sub-district hospital Kangan said that the injured was discharged after treatment.
Complete shutdown was observed in Ganderbal and Kangan. The small townships also remained closed which included Safapora, Manigam, Lar, Pandach, Nagbal, Tullamulla and Baroosa.
Most of the private and government institutions remained closed in the entire district and thin movement of private vehicles was observed on Srinagar-Leh Highway and on other roads of the district. Heavy deployment of forces remained in most of the market places to thwart any protest.
At several places in Bandipora, Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara and Handwara protests were reported and people also observed a complete strike in response to the MMM call.
In Bandipora town, shops, business establishments and other commercial units remained closed, attendance in government offices and banks was affected. Vehicular traffic also remained off the roads except thin private transport.
Despite heavy deployment of police and para-military forces, violent protests broke at several places and the protestors ransacked the office of Forest Department in main Bandipora town. Later the protests spread in other areas of the district.
Reports said Range Office Khuihama located adjacent to the residence of Deputy Commissioner Bandipora was ransacked by the angry protesters. Witnesses said that furniture, windows, doors and walls of the office have been damaged by the protesting youths.
They said soon after the incident, huge contingents of police and CRPF were deployed in the area to protect Deputy Commissioner’s residence.
An official of Forest Department told Greater Kashmir that there has been damage to the office.
Reports said that violent clashes broke out in the main Bandipora town and its adjoining areas after Army allegedly smashed dozens of private vehicles and ransacked the residential houses.
Locals told Greater Kashmir that Army personnel went berserk following minor clashes in the town.
They said during the minor protests, an Army convoy reached near Sheikh Mohalla where one of the Casper Bunker vehicles received few stones.
They said that the Army men smashed whatever came in their way. “They smashed windows and doors of dozens of houses,” eyewitnesses told Greater Kashmir. Army also attacked private vehicles and pelted stones on them and beat up pedestrians, locals said.
Witnesses said people from Ward 2, 3, 4, 5 and Nowpora and several other localities took to roads against the alleged Army highhandedness. As soon as they reached main chowk, heavy contingents of police and CRPF intercepted them near Peer Masjid.
However, clashes broke out as protesters pelted stones on forces. Police later fired scores of tear gas shells on protesters to disperse them. The clashes continued for several hours which later on spread to other areas like Nowpora, Kharpora and Ajar areas.
However, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Kilo Force, Major General Sarat Chand denied the allegations. “This is all baseless,” he said.
In the afternoon, scores of people took out a procession from Naidkhai and attempted to damage a police camp. Police baton charged and fired teargas shells to quell the protests. Witnesses said police also arrested several young boys. Later, women came out on roads and protested. They demanded the release of the detained youth. Locals said CRPF men barged into residential houses and damaged the property and smashed the window panes of houses.
Hundreds of people tried to march towards Sumbal, on reaching Police (IRP) camp some youth hurled stones towards the camp which forced cops to retaliate.
Witnesses told Greater Kashmir that youth engaged police and CRPF in stone pelting for hours.
“Forces retaliated with tear smoke shells and resorted to aerial firing when youth tried to barge inside the camp who were later pushed back. Later they allegedly beat people and damaged houses,” locals said.
Complete shutdown was also observed in Sopore. Shops, other business establishments and government offices remained closed and traffic was off the roads. Authorities had deployed hundreds of police and CRPF men to thwart any protest demonstration.
Complete strike was also observed in Baramulla district of north Kashmir. Groups of youth took to streets at Tehsil road and pelted stones on forces.
Normal life was also paralyzed in Kupwara district due to the strike. Shops, other business establishments and fuel stations were closed and the roads wore a deserted look as public and private transport remained off the roads. However, some private cars and forces vehicles could be seen plying on the roads. Strike was also reported in Trehgam, Kralpora, Handwara and Langate.
In Jamia Qadeem Mir, Mohalla Darzipora, Regipora, Lolab and in Trehgam areas protests and stone pelting were witnessed.