Dozens injured in clashes;Several youth arrested
Amid protests and clashes, Kashmir Thursday observed complete shutdown to protest Israeli aggression in Gaza and to mourn the death of seven civilians in a tragic road accident near Zainakote on Srinagar outskirts yesterday. The strike was called by various separatist groups.
Protestors torched Israeli flags at various places while clashes erupted between forces and youth in Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir.
Seven passengers– five of them from Sopore town– died Wednesday when an Army pick-up truck rammed into a passenger cab near Zainakote on Srinagar-Baramulla highway.
The tragic accident had triggered spontaneous protests in the area as scores of youth came out on the highway and clashed with police for several hours.
Today’s shutdown called by Hurriyat Conference (G) and Hurriyat Conference JK evoked mixed response in Srinagar. While the movement of public transport remained affected due to the strike, private vehicles were plying normally. Shops and business establishments also remained closed in the Old City and Civil Lines areas.
However, shops were open in some areas on the outskirts of the city.
In city’s downtown area, authorities erected barricades at various cross-sections to curb traffic movement.
CLASHES IN OLD CITY
Clashes erupted in some parts of the old city including Kaka Sarai, SafaKadal and Nowhatta as youth took to streets and pelted stones on police and paramilitary forces.
Locals said during the stone-pelting incident at Kak Sarai, police arrested a boy working at a tea stall there. He was identified as Muhammad Omar son of Habibullah resident of Tangmarg, Baramulla.
KhawateenTehreek Kashmir tried to take out a march in Srinagar, however police foiled it and arrested its chairperson Zamrooda Habib along with her two other colleagues. Reports said that hostel boarders in Kashmir University staged a massive protest against Israel on Thursday. Eyewitnesses told local news gathering agency CNS that despite shutdown, scores of university students from Mehboob-ul-Alam, Kashmiri Scholars and Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri hostels assembled in the premises of the varsity and staged a protest demonstration against Gaza carnage.
People at AbiGuzar here protested against killings in Gaza while scores of youth assembled in their respective localities in old city and staged peaceful demos against Israeli aggression in Gaza.
Kashmir Bar Association expressed their solidarity with the Palestinians by abstaining from appearing before the High Court as well as Sadder Court Srinagar.
Massive anti-Israel protests rocked Anantnag (Islamabad) town in South Kashmir even as intense clashes broke out between the police and youth. Greater Kashmir lens-man was roughed up by the police while covering the protests.
Reports said people in large numbers assembled near Jamia Masjid Hanfia and shouting anti-Israel, anti-US and anti-India slogans marched towards LalChowk. The protest demonstration was led by Ummat-e-Islami chairman, Mirwaiz South Kashmir, Qazi Ahmad Yasir.
The demonstration culminated at LalChowk where Israeli flag was torched.
Addressing the protesters, Yasir while denouncing the Israeli aggression on Palestinians termed it a cowardly act.
“This protest is also in solidarity with the detainees who are languishing in jails from decades,” said Yasir demanding immediate release of DrQasimFaktoo, DrShafiShariyati, Ayub Dar, MasratAlamBhat, Mushtaq-ul-Islam and others.
Later in the day, youth clashed with police in various old town areas.
“Youth fought pitched battles with police in various old town areas including CheeniChowk, Malakhnag, Reeshi Bazar, Dangarpora, MattanChowk and Kadipora even as forces resorted to baton charge and chased them away,” eyewitnesses said.
They said that several youth were rounded up by the police.
Greater Kashmir lens man Mir Wasim was roughed up after police tried to prevent him from filming the protests. “I was performing my professional duties when cops objected to my covering the protests,” said Wasim. He said the police manhandled him and also damaged his camera.
QaziYasir condemned the assault on the photojournalist.
Amidst shutdown, hundreds of people gathered in Pampore town of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district and staged protests raising anti-Israel slogans. They torched Israeli flag as a mark of protest.
Shopian town also observed complete shutdown. Incidents of stone-pelting were also reported from Kulgam. “In Khudwani area, youth pelted stones on police and paramilitary forces, triggering clashes,” said locals.
Around nine persons including three cops were injured in clashes in north Kashmir’s Bandipora town amid shutdown.
Complete shutdown was observed in all the three townships of Bandipora including Hajin, Sumbal and Naidkhai against Israeli aggression on Gaza. Shops and other business establishments remained closed while public transport was largely off the roads. Attendance in government offices was thin.
Protesting youth fought pitched battles with police in GulshanChowk and Papchan areas of the town.
Violent clashes erupted in the Papchan area after forces resorted to tear smoke shelling and used pellet guns to quell the protesting youth.
Six youth were injured in the clashes. Four were rushed to Bandipora hospital where doctors declared that they have received pellet injuries.
The injured were identified as Adil Farooq, Sameer Ahmad, MuddasirBhat and Muntazir Khan – all residents of Papchan.
An official said three cops also received injuries during clashes at Papchan. Groups of students also staged protests in Hajin and Naidkhai areas.
Police used tear gas shelling to disperse protesting youth in Palhallan area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Some youth reportedly received injuries in police action.
Locals said youth defied restrictions which were enforced by cops in the area and resorted to protests.
They said that police swung into action and resorted to cane-charging to disperse the protestors, resulting in injuries to Masrat Ahmad Tantray of Raipora.
People in Sopore held anti-Israel protests and urged international community to press Israel to stop civilian killings in Gaza.
Complete shutdown was observed in the townships of Tangmarg and Kunzar. Main markets including Tangmarg, Chandilora, Druroo, Kunzar, Dhobiwan and Magam remained closed and public transport remained off the roads.
People staged anti-Israel protests at Chandilora on Srinagar-Gulmarg road.
Three districts of Central Kashmir Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal observed complete shutdown. Protests and minor clashes were reported from Ganderbal while Budgam remained peaceful.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir (IGP) AG Mir said the day passed off peacefully. “There were minor stone-pelting incidents at Palhallan and Bandipora. The situation by and large remained peaceful,” he said.