Youth killed as CRPF opens fire on procession marching towards Pulwama Pandit colony
Over 100 demonstrations, clashes across Valley as death toll rises to 69 on 49th day of turbulence. Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz lodged in Chashma Shahi hut.
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Aug 26: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Friday opened fire which left a 19-year-old student dead and 12 more demonstrators injured when a procession in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district was marching towards a colony of the Kashmiri Pandits at Hall---on Srinagar-Shopian Road.
Informed sources told STATE TIMES that after conclusion of Friday afternoon prayers, a procession of the residents of Nikus and adjoining villages began marching from Jamia Masjid of Nikus towards Hall. After treading a distance of one mile, the peaceful procession was signalled to stop by CRPF 183 Bn at its barrier near the old deserted colony of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits. Sources said the CRPF officials feared an attack on the new settlement of the Kashmiri Pandits in the same village where the Government has accommodated around 200 migrant families who have secured jobs with mandatory posting in Kashmir under Prime Minister’s special package.
According to reports, most of the inhabitants of the protected settlement have lately returned to Jammu and other places and they have been demanding posting in Jammu division, contrary to their contractual obligation.
A fierce clash ensued between the demonstrators and CRPF. Amid intense stone pelting from the unruly crowd, CRPF opened fire from AK-47 rifles and pump action guns. A 19-year-old student, Shakeel Ahmad Ganai S/o Ghulam Mohammad Ganai R/o Chandpora Nikus, got killed and 12 others sustained pellet injuries. All the injured were rushed to Srinagar and admitted to SMHS Hospital for treatment. Doctors said two of them had grievous injuries. The firing from CRPF forced the procession disperse.
Shakeel had lately appeared in CET but failed after passing his class 12th examination with 80% marks. Son of a chowkidar, he had two brothers and two sisters besides his parents. With this fatality, death toll in the 49-day-long turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, has reached 69 including three Police personnel. Police or CRPF did not issue any statement on the killing and procession in Pulwama. Officials maintained that one person had got killed and 12 injured in the demonstrators’ clash with CRPF.
Deputy Commissioner of Pulwama Muneer-ul-Islam did not respond to repeated phone calls from this newspaper. However, residents said that the people in the procession had apparently no plan or intention to attack the Pandit settlement. They, however, admitted that the demonstrators shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Islam, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and many of them carried Pakistani flags.
Residential village of some famous Pandit lawyers and a retired judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Hall stands marked for development as a ‘cultural village’ in the Culture and Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu’s annual budget for 2015-16 and 2016-17. It falls in his Assembly constituency of Rajpora.
With curfew continuing in parts of the summer capital, Pampore, Pulwama and Anantnag towns and shutdown in rest of the Valley on 49th consecutive day, authorities foiled the separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s and Yasin Malik’s call for march to Eidgah. While as Mirwaiz was taken into custody and, for the first time, lodged in a Forest hut at Cheshma Shahi, close to Raj Bhawan and Nehru Guest House, other prominent separatist leaders were held either at a Police Station or under house arrest.
Sources said that over a hundred demonstrations and clashes took place across the Valley on Friday. Around 50 civilians and Police and paramilitary personnel were reportedly injured in the clashes. Demonstrators carried and waved Pakistani flags while shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans in all the demonstrations.
While as four Pakistani flags were found installed at a mobile tower at Gulnar Park, Azad Gunj, in Baramulla, JKLF founder leader Maqbool Bhat’s brother Zahoor Ahmad Bhat installed the ‘Azad Kashmir flag’ at his residential village of Trehgam in Kupwara district.
Clashes between protesters and Police/CRPF took place at Mirgund, Khag, Beerwah and Bagh-e-Mehtaab in Budgam district, Kanlibagh and Hygam in Baramulla, Aloosa and Ongam in Bandipore, Naghama and Baig Mohalla (Kralgund) in Kupwara, HMT Crossing Srinagar and Bab Mohalla in Shopian.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]