Teargas shells spark fire in some structures in Anantnag
Clashes broke out between protesters and government forces in parts of Srinagar, Sopore and Anantnag district after Friday prayers.
Soon after the Friday prayers, scores of youth assembled at Nowhatta Chowk outside the historic Jamia Masjid in old city and started raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Some youth hurled stones at government forces deployed in the area. The forces retaliated with stun grenades and tear smoke shelling to disperse the protesters. Clashes were also reported from Saraf Kadal area of the city.
In south Kashmir’s Anantnag town, clashes erupted in Reshi Bazar, Lal Chowk after Friday prayers which later spread up to Ganjiwara and Mattan Chowk areas.
The protests started after youth raised pro-freedom slogans and tried to march towards Lal Chowk in the form of a procession from Hanfia Jamia Masjid Reshi Bazar against the killing of Hizb commander Sabzar Ahmed Bhat. Police and paramilitary forces tried to disperse protesters by lobbing tear gas shells to which the youth responded by throwing stones which triggered intense clashes in the area.
The intense tear smoke shelling by police forced the shopkeepers to down their shutters. A woman, Sarwa Begum, wife of Mohd Shafi Pathan of Reshi Bazar, was injured when she was hit by a stone in her eye. She was rushed to district hospital Anantnag for treatment, according to a police official. The protests went on till late evening.
Fire engulfed several structures in Reshi Bazar after some tear smoke shells landed in some residential houses, according to eyewitnesses. The Reshi Bazar market is the wholesale hub of Anantnag district. Some five shops were on fire and the fire and emergency services personnel were trying to douse the flames when reports last came in.
In north Kashmir’s Sopore town, clashes were witnessed between youth and forces near Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers.
Protesters tried to take a march from the Jamia Masjid. As police and paramilitary CRPF men tried to stop them, it triggered clashes. Witnesses said slogans in the name of two local slain militants Aijaz Ahmed Mir of Brath Kalan and Basharat Ahmed Shiekh of Bomai, who were killed by government forces in an encounter at Nathipora Sopore on Thursday, were also raised.
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed for second consecutive day in areas of Zainageer to pay homage to the slain Hizbul Mujahideen militants.
Reports said all shops and other business establishments remained closed while traffic also remained off the roads in nearly a dozen villages including Bomai, Zaloora, Brath Kalan, Tujar, Dooru and Dangerpora villages adjacent to Nathipora, the site of encounter.