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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Anti-India, pro-Pakistan rallies growing thicker in Valley

Over 150 injured in fresh clashes on 26th day of shutdown; forces torch 15 bikes in Kulgam clash; crowds set ablaze trawler, Alto on highway

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Aug 3: With the separatists-sponsored shutdown continuing without break in entire Kashmir valley, coupled with curfew in several areas, on 26th day of turbulence, triggered by militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, over 150 protesters and Police and paramilitary personnel sustained injuries in dozens of clashes across Kashmir valley on Wednesday.

Buoyed by massive rallies---around 50,000-strong at Kareemabad Pulwama and 30,000-strong in Kaimoh Kulgam---where armed militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Hizbul Mujahideen addressed or participated in the congregations, separatists are understood to have chalked out a programme of organising similar shows in entire Kashmir valley. Abundance of Pakistani flags and pro-Pakistan slogans are the key features of such rallies.

Informed sources told STATE TIMES that armed militants on Wednesday appeared at the ‘martyrs graveyards’ at Bijbehara and Mattan and they paid gun salutes to their slain colleagues in presence of scores of residents. With the Police, security forces and civil administration remarkably losing control, militant leaders have begun addressing public rallies in South Kashmir. Reports said that a militant commander Altaf Dar, who had addressed a rally in Kaimoh area on Tuesday, appeared at another rally at Arwani on Wednesday.

LeT chief Abu Dojana, the Pakistani militant who was in the forefront of Burhan Wani's funeral procession in Tral on July 9, appeared at a 50,000-strong rally at Kareemabad (Pulwama) earlier this week but he did not address the gathering.

Sources said that today's largest rally, in which 15,000 to 18,000 people participated, was organised in Kulgam district as the separatist leaders had called for a march to Damhal Hanjipora where two civilians had died in Army’s firing on July 9. People had also set ablaze Police Station besides the court and a judge's residential quarter. Sources said that Police and security forces blocked the advancement of the rally at Adijan Bridge with intense teargas shelling and firing in the air. Around a hundred protesters and Police and paramilitary personnel sustained injuries, mostly in stone pelting and stampede.

Officials maintained that 40 protesters and equal number of Police and paramilitary personnel were injured in the clashes. Sources from the spot said that Police and security forces arrested several youths, seized their cars and motorcycles. As many as 15 two-wheelers were set on fire and destroyed. Officials maintained that only three motorcycles had been torched by “unidentified persons”.

Earlier in the day, crowds enforcing shutdown on the highway had torched a trawler at Lethapora where PSO of Additional DC of Ramban had opened fire last evening. Civilian Farooq Ahmad Kuchhai (32), who had died on the spot, was laid to rest amid pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans today.

DIG South Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan maintained that only one civilian had got killed in the shootout while as another was injured. However, officials at SKIMS told STATE TIMES that the second civilian, Suhail Ahmad Wani, was “almost dead”. “We have been asked not to remove him off the ventilator. As soon as we will do it, he will be declared as dead”, said a doctor. He said there was no chance of his recovery.

Sources said that around 50 protesters and Police and security forces personnel sustained injuries in other clashes across the Valley on Wednesday. Some of the demonstrations passed off peacefully. Candlelight marches were organised at Delina in Baramulla besides Hawal, Nowhatta and several other places in the capital city. In Chhattabal and on the highway bypass, protesters clashed with Police and forces. They were seen checking identity cards and thrashing Police personnel wherever found travelling.

Around 13,000-strong rallies were organised at Arwani in Kulgam district and Quil in Pulwama district. Reports said that 6,000 people participated in a rally at Vessu in Kulgam district and over 5,000 at Lahribal in Pahalgam. Officials said that total number of the participants in the rally in Pahalgam was 300. They said that an intense clash took place between the protesters and Police at Lahribal where 8 Policemen, including SHO Tariq Khan, were injured. Equal numbers of the protesters were also reportedly injured. Police officials said that four miscreants were arrested.

Protest demonstrations of lesser participation were also reported from Beerwah in Budgam district, Tangmarg, Sopore and Warpora in Baramulla district and some places in Bandipora and Kupwara districts.

Here in the capital city, heads of the two factions of Hurriyat Conference---Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq---held sit-in demonstrations outside their residences respectively in Hyderpora and Nageen.

Police version

A Police spokesman said that only 15 incidents of stone pelting were reported across the valley.  “These incidents were reported from Srinagar, Kulgam, Sopore, Shopian, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Budgam and Awantipora. During these law and order situations 12 persons, --40 police and security force personnel were injured. As a precautionary measure Curfew/restrictions were put in place in some police stations of Srinagar, Anantnag town, Bongam in Shopian, Khanpora in Baramulla, Awantipora and Pampora towns”, he said.

“In its continuous drive against the hooligans and miscreants 349 accused persons have been arrested in the valley. Besides, 122 have been detained under prohibitory provisions of law”, the Police spokesman said.

[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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