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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Separatists’ march to Jamia Masjid foiled with curfew

Over 100 injured in around 200 clashes as Valley reverberates with Azadi slogans, militant songs at mosque loudspeakers, Pak flags in processions

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Jul 29: On 21st day of unabated turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, over a hundred protesters and Police and paramilitary personnel, sustained injuries in around 200 clashes across Kashmir valley on Friday as the authorities foiled the separatist’s programme of a mass march to Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar with strict enforcement of curfew.

In apprehension of escalation in violence, authorities imposed curfew and other restrictions throughout the Valley and blocked all roads to Srinagar downtown as senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had called for mass marches to Jamia Masjid to register protest against killing of around 50 civilians in the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s death. Fifty persons, including two Police personnel, have died in the clashes in the last 21 days while as hundreds have sustained injuries.

Curfew was strictly enforced particularly in Srinagar and other district headquarters and major townships across the Valley. It was the 21st day of curfew and continued shutdown as all shops, business establishments, most of the government offices and almost all banks and educational institutions, remained closed and traffic was off the road. Only some essential services operated.

While as the separatist leaders Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik are already in detention, most of the separatist leaders have been continuously under house arrest. Defying restrictions, heads of the two factions of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, came out and attempted to lead toward Jamia Masjid. Both were arrested and detained for several hours respectively at Police Stations of Humhama and Nageen.

Friday congregational prayers were not permitted at Jamia Masjid and several other mosques where the authorities feared trouble and clashes.

Police blocked a group’s march toward J&K headquarters of UNMOGIP at Sonwar. Some activists were injured in the clash and a few of them were taken into custody.

Immediately after conclusion of the weekly Friday afternoon prayers, people at hundreds of mosques across Kashmir staged demonstrations, shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans, took out modest processions and clashed with Police and security forces. Maximum of the day’s 200-odd clashes took place in Budgam, Srinagar, Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag and Kupwara districts.

An official spokesman said that 46 Police and security forces personnel, besides 8 civilian protesters, were injured in the clashes. However, STATE TIMES learned from tabulation of figures at different hospitals and other sources that around 100 protesters and Police and forces personnel sustained injuries. Around 30 of them had got injured due to teargas shelling, pellets and bullets. Hospital officials maintained that none of the injured was critical. However, civilian sources from Pulwama said that one Shahid had a serious injury.

At several places, demonstrators attempted to attack Police Stations. At one place in Shopian, a government building was set on fire.

In some processions, demonstrators---many of them masked--- shouted pro-Azadi and pro-Islam slogans while carrying Pakistan flags besides the flags of the militant organisations like Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al-Umar Mujahideen and a few ISIS-type black flags. In the evening hundreds of mosques across Valley reverberated with pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans while as Pakistani militant songs were played on loudspeakers much like in 1990.

Like in 2008 and 2010, separatist demonstrators have occupied most of the Valley’s roads. Consequently, almost entire movement of Police, security forces and Government officials has come to a halt. Security forces have also directed all of their field units and camps to suspend all administrative as well as operational movement for fear of mob attacks. Only in Kupwara district, Army held a flag march. Forces were attacked at three places. Troops opened fire. About 10 persons were reportedly injured.

 Police version

“The situation throughout Kashmir remained under control although there were about 70 incidents of stone pelting across the valley. The miscreants attacked a number of police and security establishments and camps. Militants lobbed a grenade on the police and CRPF personnel deployed for law and order duty at Shopian. Grenade was later-on defused by the BD squad. At Rohama, Rafiabad, a Govt. building was set on fire. The deployments exercised maximum restraint inspite of such serious provocations.

“During these law and order situations 08 persons, 46 police and security force personnel were injured. As a precautionary measure Curfew/restrictions were put in place in the sensitive towns and areas to maintain law and order”

One killed in Budgam

Official sources said that a civilian, namely Abdul Ahad Ganai of Chhil Brass, driving a scooty along with his son Kamran, got killed when his throat got severed with razor wire barricades put up by miscreants on the road to block movement of Police and security forces, near Hardu Punzoo village in Beerwah area of Budgam district. Injured Kamran has been rushed to SKIMS. With this, 51 persons, including two Police personnel, have got killed in the turbulence triggered by Burwan Wani’s death.

Civilian shot dead in Sopore

Sources in North Kashmir said that three persons, believed to be militants, appeared at Saidpora (Tragpora) in outskirts of Sopore late on Friday evening and they called 35-year-old Fayaz Ahmad Rather s/o Mohammad Ramzan Rather out of his home. One of the suspected militants took out a pistol and shot dead the civilian. Rather was owner of a book shop at Watirgam. Unconfirmed reports said that he was also known to be an over-ground worker of Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group.

[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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