Govt Clamps Harsh Curfew To Evade ‘Friday Fear’; Clashes At Several Places; Congregational Prayers Not Allowed At ‘Hotspots’
People Defy Curfew, 80 Persons Injured As Protests Escalate
Srinagar, Mar 8: At least 80 persons including 30 personnel of police and paramilitary CRPF were injured in protests and clashes at several places in curfew-bound Kashmir on Friday. In the wake of stringent siege in place, people could not offer the congregational Friday prayers at many places.
Curfew remained in force in Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Sopore, Bandipora, Handwara, Awantipora, Kupwara, Bandipora, Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag (Islamabad) districts. Official sources said the curfew was imposed following violent protests in most parts of valley on Thursday against the killing of a 24-year-old youth Tahir Ahmad Sofi in Army firing in north Kashmir’s Baramulla town on Tuesday.
Despite clamping the curfew in entire Srinagar to prevent protests, the youth took to streets at various places and clashed with police and CRPF. There was also no let up in the reports of damaging of residential houses in some parts of the city by the armed forces.
Defying the curfew, the youth took to streets at Batamaloo, Barzulla, Habak and Dalgate areas of Srinagar. Reports said groups of youth took to streets in Batamaloo and raised pro-freedom slogans. They were denouncing the killing of the Baramulla youth and demanding severe punishment to culprits. The protestors alleged that CRPF men Thursday evening, without any provocation, broke the windowpanes of several residential houses in localities of Batamaloo.
Witnesses said large contingents of cops intercepted them and lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse them.
The clashes also erupted in Habbak area of Hazratbal. Police lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse the youth. The protestors alleged that paramilitary forces ransacked and damaged their houses without any provocation.
They alleged that the forces barged into their houses, beating men and women together while ransacking household belongings. “There was a huge contingent of police deployed in the area today as if it was another World War going on,” said Ghulam Rasool, a resident of Habbak.
Reports of protests were also received from Dalgate area of Srinagar, however the protestors dispersed peacefully.
Residents of Hazratbal said around 300 people offered congregational Friday prayers at Dargah Hazratbal as people were not allowed to move out for prayers.
With strict curfew in old city areas, no congregational Friday prayers were offered at the historic Jamia Masjid and some other Masjids in Srinagar. Reports said all gates of Jamia Masjid remained closed with a large number of forces deployed outside. The residents of old city said the cops did not allow them to come out of their houses.
In the curfew-bound civil lines areas of Srinagar, reports said groups of youth took to streets and held strong protest demonstrations. Later they dispersed peacefully.
In Budgam, protests erupted at Machoo, Mazhama and Char-i-Sharief.
Reports said groups of youth took to streets and held protest demonstrations against the killing of Baramulla youth. Forces used tear smoke shells to disperse them.
In Ganderbal district, soon after Friday prayers, youth appeared near Physical Education College and started raising pro-freedom slogans. They pelted stones at police and CRPF who chased them and pushed them to Saloora locality where pitched battles continued for hours together. Locals alleged that two civilians were rounded up by the CRPF. However their arrest could not be confirmed from police.
Youth and forces fought a pitched battle near Sindh Bridge at Kangan. Minor incidents of stone pelting were also reported on the Srinagar- Leh highway at Wussan and Cherwan.
Soon after Friday prayers people staged protests at Nagbal and Safapora and in various other localities outside their respective Jamia Masjids. Later they dispersed peacefully. Peaceful protests were also held outside Jamia Masjid Kangan.
Deployment of forces remained in place at market places while roads wore a deserted look.
Police maintained that “maximum restrain” was exercised while dealing with situation in the entire district. However locals at Saloora alleged smashing of window panes of some residential houses by CRPF while chasing protesting youth.
Several people including police and paramilitary forces were injured in violent clashes that erupted between the youth and forces in many areas of South Kashmir while people tried to defy curfew after the congregational Friday prayers. Reports said stringent curfew was clamped in all four districts of south Kashmir.
In Rahmoo village of Khudwani in Kulgam district, 18 CRPF personnel were injured in violent clashes that erupted between the youth and the cops.
A civilian was also critically injured after being severely beaten up by the CRPF, reports said.
“As soon as the Friday prayers concluded, people defied curfew and clashed with the police and the CRPF personnel deployed in the area,” police sources said.
They said 18 CRPF men of 163 Batallion sustained injuries in the clashes and some of them were identified as Sub-Inspector Bagh Hussain, Uday Kumar, Dev Raj, Harbhan Singh, Ubhesh, Bibu Kumar, Reshma, Sham Lal. A cop from IRP was also injured. CRPF resorted to aerial firing and lobbed numerous tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters. However, the ding-dong battles continued till late in the evening. At least five civilians, one of them critically, were also injured.
“One of the civilians was dragged from his house by the CRPF men and severely beaten. He sustained head injuries and was admitted to a hospital,” witnesses said.
They said the CRPF men went berserk and barged into several houses beating up women and children. “They also ransacked the household goods, smashed window panes of several houses and vehicles,” locals said.
Sources said a police head constable identified as Tariq Ahmad Khanday was ruthlessly beaten up by the CRPF men of 163 Bn when he stopped them from firing at the protesters. Protests and clashes were on in Khudwani and Kaimoh till last reports came in.
A strict curfew was enforced in Kulgam town which has remained tense for the past several days with people alleging excesses by police and CRPF. Despite stringent curfew protests and clashes also erupted in several areas of Shopian district. In Gagran area a large number of people, including women, tried to defy curfew after the Friday prayers.
The Police and the CRPF personnel used tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors, witnesses said. Gagran village is on boil since February 9 when Afzal Guru was hanged.
“Violent clashes also took place in Bongam and Bonbazar area of the Shopian town,” reports said.
The attendants of patients alleged that they were thrashed by the CRPF personnel without any provocation in the district hospital Shopian.
Strict curfew was imposed in Pulwama district too. However, people defied curfew and clashed with police at several places in Pulwama town, Samboora and Kakpoora. Curfew was also imposed in Pampore, Awantipora, Rajpora and Tral area of the district. However, massive pro-freedom demonstrations were witnessed in several villages of Tral.
Strict curfew was imposed in Islamabad and Bijbehara town also. Massive protest demonstrations and clashes were witnessed in Dooru and Kokernag area of the district and several people reportedly sustained injuries.
“Police and paramilitary forces wearing riot gears and armed with sophisticated weapons were deployed in lanes and by-lanes of Islamabad town,” reports said.
They said that late in the evening youth defied curfew and staged protests in various areas of old town including Malakhnag, Cheeni Chowk and Reeshi Bazar. Police and forces fired dozens of tear gas canisters to disperse the protesting youth.
Reports of protests were also received from Lal Chowk, Khanbal, Naibasti and Laizbal areas of town.
People of SK colony alleged police excesses. “The police and CRPF men without any provocation barged into the house of one Late Ghulam Qadir Bhat and thrashed the inmates including women,” said the locals. They said they also broke the window panes of the house. Later people including women came outside and staged massive protests against the “high handedness of forces.”
Curfew also remained enforced in Bijbehara town which has witnessed violent clashes for the past few days.
A report from South Kashmir’s Anantnag (Islamabad) district said people took to roads after CRPF personnel allegedly beat people black and blue in a house who had visited there to mourn the death of a lady.
Reports said at Sarnal Kadipora area, people had assembled in a house to mourn the death of an elderly woman Hanfiza Banoo when CRPF personnel barged into the house and beat people to pulp. “There was hue and cry when CRPF men went berserk inside the house. They beat women and children as well. Dozens of people received injuries,” residents said.
Reports said in Kadipora area, dozens of youth resorted to stone pelting in the evening. After an hour of this incident, a contingent of CRPF personnel entered into the house of Gul Muhammad Bhat and allegedly beat people there. Agitated people soon after came on roads and raised slogans against the alleged brutality of the CRPF and demanded stern action against them.
A late evening report said six policemen were injured in clashes in Janglat Mandi and Sheerpora area of Islamabad town. Forces ransacked houses and arrested youth in the areas, the report said.
Eyewitnesses said police personnel barged into the house of late Muhammad Sidiq Dar in Naibasti in Islamabad town and beat up his widow Mahjabeena on Friday evening.
Reports added that forces also beat up an eight year boy Wasif in Naibasti this evening.
A strict curfew was imposed in Bandipora and its adjoining areas on Friday to thwart protest demonstrations against the killing of a Baramulla youth. However, reports of protest demonstrations and clashes were received from various localities of Bandipora including Hajin, Kaloosa, Mantrigam, Pazalpora, Nadihal, Papchan, Naidkhi and Saderkoot. During the clashes angry youth attacked Army Good Will School Hajin with stones, damaged its windowpanes and doors, witness told Greater Kashmir.
Apprehensive of protests and clashes, authorities deployed huge contingents of Police and armed paramilitary forces in strength in every lane and by-lane of Bandipora town and its adjoining areas. However the protests and clashes erupted after Friday prayers in several localities against the killing of Baramulla youth.
Army from early morning cordoned highly volatile Papchan area of Bandipora.
Immediately after Friday prayers, scores of youth chanting pro-freedom slogans took to streets in Kaloosa area of Bandipora. Police and CRPF men deployed in the area fired teargas canisters and used batons to disperse the protesting people. The youth responded and started pelting stones.
The protests intensified for a while when police bundled one youth Waseem Ahmed son of Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Khan. Police said they exercised “maximum restraint” and one cop was injured in clashes.
However, massive protest demonstrations were organized in Hajin area of Bandipora where youth “attacked” Army Good Will School.
Reports said soon after the congregational Friday prayers, people took to streets amid pro-freedom slogans and were demanding action against the killers of Baramulla youth. However, police and paramilitary forces resorted to baton charge and lobbed tear gas canisters near Higher Secondary School to quell the protesters who retaliated by pelting stones.
“While chasing the protestors, youth pelted stones towards Army Good Will School damaged its window-panes and gate,” witnesses told Greater Kashmir
They said five youth sustained injuries during the clashes, which, however, could not be confirmed from hospital authorities.
Reports of protests and clashes were reported from Pazalpora, Mantrigam, Darmahama, Saderkoot, Nowgam, Tragam, Shadipora and other adjoining villages of Bandipora.
Locals alleged that government forces did not allow them to offer congregational Friday prayers.
Due to curfew, most of the people could not offer Friday Prayers at Main Jamia Masjids at Sumbal, Haijn and Naidkhi though they were allowed to offer prayers in local Masjids.
Authorities sealed various sensitive areas of Bandipora like Papchan, Aloosa, Nowpora, Nadihal, Naidkhai, Sumbal, Hajin and Ward 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 to prevent protests. Additional forces were deployed in these areas to avoid clashes. However people took to streets and clashed with cops at Hajin, Kaloosa, Mantrigam, Pazalpora, Nadihal, Papachan, Naidkhi and Saderkoot.
Protests erupted in Kunzar Tangmarg on Friday amid stone pelting and tear smoke shelling. Reports said in retaliation to stone pelting by youth, police and CRPF men barged into houses in Pandithpora and Kunzar villages. They hit a student Massarat daughter of Ghulam Nabi Shiekh and broke her teeth. She was rushed to PHC Kunzar where she was received three stitches in her lip that had sustained critical injury. Reportedly a policeman Anil Kumar Belt No. 715/B too sustained injury. The forces broke windowpanes of residential houses in Kunzar, sources said.
Meanwhile a protest rally was held in Chichiloora village after Friday prayers from Jamia Masjid to the bus stop on Srinagar-Gulmarg road. The protesters later dispersed peacefully. Protests reports were also received from Mazhama, Kanihama and Kanihama-Batpora near Magam.
Reports said the forces while retaliating to stone-pelters resorted to cane-charging and broke the windowpanes of houses in Kanihama village.
In north Kashmir’s Hajin town, at least three persons were injured Friday in clashes between police, paramilitary forces and youth.
In Kupwara, curfew remained in force. Clashes erupted in Lalpora Lolab, Trehgam, Bohipora, Langate and Kupwara town. The forces foiled the attempts of protests at many places in Kupwara town. The groups of youth, raising pro-freedom slogans took to streets in Lalpora Lolab and Kupwara areas. They were intercepted by large contingents of police and CRPF. The forces lobbed tear smoke shells and cane-charged the protestors, who in turn pelted stones on the forces. This triggered clashes in which at least seven persons were injured. Protesters damaged police vehicles in Lalpora Lolab and Kupwara.
In Qadeem Mir Mohalla, Bohipora, Regipora, hundreds of youth took to streets and held strong protests demonstration against the killing of Baramulla youth. However they were intercepted by forces leading to violent clashes. Pitched battles continued till evening in which at least two persons were injured. In return, forces entered into several residential houses and damaged windows, glass panes and other furniture, locals alleged. CRPF men attacked vehicles at Mir Mohalla.
In Lalpora, Police resorted to indiscriminate tear gas shelling which resulted in injuries to two persons who were identified as Irshad Ahmad and Khatija Begum both residents of Lalpora.
Protesters hurled stones on forces which retaliated by indiscriminate tear gas shelling. In the clashes, locals alleged that a tear gas shell exploded in a cowshed which immediately caught fire, later doused by fire tenders.
Protests were also reported from Sever, Trehgam, Kralpora, Hiri, Guzryal, and Panzgam.
The people, according to reports, took out protest rallies after Friday prayers shouting pro-freedom slogans and demanded stringent punishment against killers of Baramulla youth. In Trehgam, the hometown of JKLF founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, people defying curfew held a massive protest demonstration and marched from Trehgam town to the Army Cantonment and later dispersed peacefully.
Police also arrested JKLF leader Zahoor Ahmad Bhat and younger brother of Maqbool Bhat from Hiri area.
Sopore Tehsil of Baramulla district also remained under strict curfew. Peaceful protests were also reported from several areas soon after the Friday prayers.
In Baramulla town, clashes between police and protesters were reported at Khanpora bridge, Gulnar park bridge, cement bridge and Delina. Later in the evening eight protesters suffered pellet injuries during intense clashes that erupted during evening time between police and protesters in Baramulla town.
All the injured were rushed to Baramulla district hospital. The clashes erupted when police were withdrawing from their positions at Khanpora Bridge.
Police lobbed several tear gas shells at Khanpora, Cement Bridge and Gulnar Park after protesting youths started pelting stones at the cops. Clashes were witnessed throughout the day despite all the bridges connecting old town with the civil lines area being closed for any human or traffic movement.
At Delina Baramulla, fierce clashes were witnessed this afternoon after protesting youths engaged police in heavy stone pelting. The clashes were reported in Batepora Mohalla of Delina. One youth identified as Shafeeq Ahmad was reported to be injured.
The locals at Delina alleged that police resorted to ransacking of houses and damaged window panes of several houses.
In old town Baramulla, Friday prayers were held in Qadeem Eidgah in which thousands of people participated. Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani addressed the gathering over telephone.
Various local speakers who addressed the people reiterated their demand of shifting of all the security forces’ camps from the area. The speakers demanded an impartial probe into the killing of Tahir Ahmad Sofi and immediate arrest of troopers involved in the incident.
SEPARATIST LEADERS ARRESTED
Police have arrested Hurriyat (M) leader Muhammad Yusuf Naqash from his Safakadal residence on Friday. “Hurriyat (G) Gen Secretary Ghulam Nabi Sumjji, its leaders M Shaban of Sopore and Nazir Ahmad Ahangar of Shahgund were also arrested today,” sources said.
Sources said Police are raiding the residences of Majlis-e-Mushawrat leaders to nab them.
Police Friday said curfew remained imposed in major towns of Kashmir. Situation remained by and large “normal”, a police spokesman said. “There were some incidents of stone pelting at some places. 26 police and CRPF men were injured while tackling the situations at different places,” he said.
He said miscreants pelted stones at Soura in Srinagar, footbridge Dewan Bagh in Baramulla, Shopian, Anantnag, Awantipora, Qaimouh Kulgam, Sopore, Kupwara, Bandipora and Handwara. “In south Kashmir today, nine police and CRPF men were injured while tackling the law and order situation. In Kulgam five CRPF men, in Shopian four policemen, in Anantnag one cop and in Awantipora one policeman was injured,” he said. “In Sopore eight CRPF men and 20 policemen, one among seriously, were injured. In Handwara five policemen including two Sub inspectors and an ASI were injured. In Srinagar three police personnel were injured. In Baramulla four policemen including an Inspector and a lady while as in Bandipora 19 policemen and 11 CRPF personnel were injured,” he said.