Freedom songs played at Kashmir mosques as youths reject shutdown relaxation
Over 100 injured in around 50 clashes across Valley on 18th day of turmoil
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Jul 26: Even as authorities on Tuesday lifted curfew for the first time in entire Kashmir valley after the street turbulence was triggered by militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, unruly youths in the summer capital and elsewhere continued clashes with Police and paramilitary forces while rejecting the separatist leadership’s second relaxation in shutdown.
Authorities announced early in the morning that curfew had been completely lifted from all parts of Kashmir valley with immediate effect. Some relaxations had been granted earlier but it was for the first time in the last 18 days that curfew was not enforced anywhere in the Valley. Separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had announced relaxation in the shutdown from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm. However, shops, business establishments, most of the government and private offices, banks and educational institutions did not open anywhere during the relaxation period.
It was second rejection of the separatists’ relaxation in shutdown as earlier also people had not opened business establishments. Reports said that transport was completely off the road and only the hospital traffic was allowed to operate. Reports said that many people who were found driving vehicles during the relaxation period faced the unruly youth’s ire. Many of such vehicles were damaged and the motorists either roughed up or rebuked. Government has not been able to operate educational institutions which it had declared open after the summer vacations last week.
Reports said that 50 to 60 clashes took places between the protesters and Police/ security forces in different districts---34 in Srinagar alone. Around a hundred protesters and Police personnel have reportedly sustained injuries in these clashes. Officials said that around a dozen persons with pellet and teargas shell injuries had been treated at different hospitals. Separatists have called for continued shutdown till July 29 while asking the people to gather for a massive march to Kulgam on Wednesday.
In a statement, a Police spokesman said: “The situation throughout the Kashmir valley remained peaceful and under control today. Curfew was lifted from all the towns/areas of entire valley this morning except Anantnag where it was lifted in afternoon. Shops opened at many places and traffic also plied. There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley although some stray stone pelting incidents were reported from a few places. All post paid mobile services are being restored tonight”.
Toll reaches 50
In the summer capital, a 62-year-old civilian, driving a scooter, hit a road divider near Eidgah in the forenoon when a violent clash was going on between Police and protesters. He was critically injured. Later, he succumbed to injuries at SKIMS. Residents alleged that the biker lost control and hit the divider when a Police contingent was chasing the crowd. However, officials claimed that the civilian died in a simple road accident as no clash was going on that time in Eidgah area. With this fatality, death toll in the 18-day-long turbulence has reached 50.
Pak anthem at mosques
Reports said that organisers of the current agitation have made hundreds of copies of the Pakistani anthem and freedom songs and supplied the same to a large number of village and mohalla mosques throughout the Valley for the purpose of playing the DVDs and pen drives on public address system of mosques immediately after conclusion of the daily evening prayers. These anthems and songs were played throughout Srinagar and elsewhere in all major towns and district headquarters on separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call. Reports said that authorities did not interfere anywhere.
After the evening prayers, complete blackout was enforced by youths in several localities in Srinagar.
4 militants killed, one held
Official sources said that four Pakistani militants of Lashkar-eTayyiba, got killed in a daylong operation of Army in Nowgam sector, close to LoC, in Kupwara district on Monday. One of the militants, who claimed to be Pakistani national, was apprehended alive.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]