Massive protests break out in Kashmir after death of youth in firing

A 1500-strong mob attacked the police pickets set up near a cluster of houses belonging to Kashmiri Pandits.

Srinagar: Massive protests and intense street clashes erupted in Kashmir Valley on Wednesday after another youth was killed in security forces’ firing in Nadihal village of north-western Baramulla district. Five other civilians were injured in the firing, three of them critically who have been admitted to a Srinagar hospital.

More than 100 people have been injured in security forces’ actions during fresh clashes elsewhere, so far on Wednesday. Reports pouring into Srinagar from different parts of the Valley said that protests were held and clashes took places in southern Pulwama town, at three places-Siligam, Khudwani and Katrasoo-in Kulgam district, Arhama in Shopian, Bandipore, Sopore towns, Srinagar and half a dozen other places including in Anantnag district. At a few places, these were still going on at the time of filing this report.

A report from Kulgam said that a huge crowd of people returning from an “aazadi” rally held in Butrus area of the district attacked and torched the ancestral house of ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Rajya Sabha member Nazir Ahmed Lawey. An adjacent building housing a branch of Punjab National Bank also caught fire, witnesses said adding that the mob snatched the weapons of the bank guards before leaving the place.

At Nutnusa in frontier district of Kupwara, a 1500-strong mob attacked the police pickets set up near a cluster of houses belonging to Kashmiri Pandits. This led to a clash between the two sides which was on when reports last came in.

Kashmir Valley is on the on the boil since July 8 in the aftermath of the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Though curfew has been lifted from entire Valley, shutdowns in response to separatists’ ‘protest calendar’ and protests and clashes have continued, throwing life out of gear.

An 18-year-old youth Danish Manzoor was killed and five others were injured when the CRPF opened fire on protesters at Nadihal outside the town of Sopore and about 58-km northwest of Srinagar early Wednesday.

Reports said that protests erupted in the village after the security forces allegedly denied passage to the fruit-laden trucks in the area. Earlier during the intervening night of August 30 and 31, the Army troops, the locals alleged, raided and ransacked homes and thrashed inmates. When the residents protested over “highhandedness” they clashed with the CRPF which opened fire killing and injuring ‘violent protesters’, reports added. Three seriously injured youth have been admitted to a hospital in capital Srinagar.

Later during the day, large number of people attended Danish’s funeral. The mourners put Pakistan's national flag next to a wooden bunk on which the slain youth's body was placed before a cleric led his jinaza prayer, witnesses said. Another (Pakistani flag) covered his body as the pallbearers carried it to a nearby cemetery for burial. This, the locals told visiting reporters, represented their “hopes and aspirations.”

With Wednesday’s fatal injury the death toll during the ongoing unrest in the Valley has risen to 71. The civilian deaths occurred in security forces’ firings and other actions. Two policemen have also died in mob violence whereas about 7,000 civilians and 4,000 – 4,500 security personnel have been injured in nearly eight-week-old turbulence.

While pro-freedom protests were already underway at several areas in the Valley, many other places also erupted after people heard about the killing of the youth at Nadihal. Intense clashes between surging crowds followed and police and CRPF fired teargas canisters and pellet guns to quell these and stone-hurling mobs.

In the backdrop of Home Minister, Rajnath Singh’s, recent comment that the youth of Kashmir should, instead of stones, have laptops in their hands, dozens of youth showed a unique way of protest by marching along the streets of Palhalan township in Baramulla district with their laptops. “We just wanted to convey to the Indian government that we are not illiterate or boorish but educated and most of us are graduates and post-graduates yet we are out on the streets to protest and ask for aazadi (freedom)," one of them told local reporters.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, spoke with Governor, NN Vohra, at Raj Bhavan, for about one hour during which the Kashmir situation was discussed. They also discussed the forthcoming visit of an all-party delegation to the Valley and various important matters relating to the “urgent restoration of peace and normalcy” in Kashmir, official sources said. The all-party delegation to be led by Home Minister, Mr. Singh, is scheduled to arrive here on a two-day visit on September 4.

A defence spokesman here said that Northern Army Commander, Lt. Gen, DS Hooda, also called on the Governor to discuss the prevailing situation. “The Governor was apprised of the measures taken by the Army along the Line of Control (LoC) and hinterland to ensure security as also to restore normalcy,” the spokesman said. Let. Gen. Hooda is on a daylong visit of the restive Valley, his second in past two weeks.

Meanwhile, the arrest spree continues and overnight and, during the day on Wednesday, the police arrested over 100 more people from different parts of the Valley. In Srinagar, the police raided the headquarters of right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami and arrested its political bureau chief Zahid Ali. “They were asking for some senior party leaders also but since none of them was present they left taking Ali along with them,” said a staff member.

In past three weeks, over 2,500 arrests were made and out of them nearly 200 people have been detained under the State’s stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). Under this act, a person can be jailed for a period of up to two years without formal trial being initiated. However, such detentions are periodically reviewed by an official screening committee.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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