2 killed in fresh clashes on 64th day of shutdown; Kashmir toll reaches 78
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Sep 10: In fresh clashes across Kashmir valley on 64th consecutive day of shutdown, following Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s killing an encounter on July 8, death toll has reached 78 as two more young protesters have got killed in Shopian and Anantnag districts of South Kashmir on Saturday.
Informed sources told STATE TIMES that hundreds of people gathered at Tukroo village of Shopian on the local separatists’ call. No sooner did they begin shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans than the Police and CRPF deployment swung into action. While the crowds were being dispersed with tear smoke shelling, 24-year-old Sayyar Ahmad Sheikh of Ganapora Balpora got hit in his head. He was rushed to Sub District Hospital Rajpora where doctors declared him “brought dead”.
In another incident, hundreds of people gathered at Botengo, between Bijbehara and Khannabal, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway, and blocked a link road with quarry stones early in the morning. A Police contingent rushed to the spot and removed the barrier. Later, in the forenoon, unruly crowds assembled again and began throwing stones on traffic on the highway. Police and CRPF rushed to the spot again and dispersed the gathering.
While the youths in the interior of Botengo were being chased away, Police got trapped by a group of the stone throwing youths. Police used pump action guns, causing injuries to at least four persons. Of them, a critically injured Yawar Mushtaq Bhat (20), breathed his last at District Hospital Anantnag.
Sources said that Anantnag district headquarters and its peripheries turned tense and a large number of the residents gathered again at Botengo. According to the residents, one of the tear gas shells hit Government High School building which caught fire and gutted. Police claimed that the school building was set on fire by “miscreants”. It claimed that hours later another unruly crowd gathered at the same place and torched a number of the government offices.
With the two fresh fatalities, death toll in the 64-day-long turmoil has reached 78. It includes three Police personnel who were killed in violent clashes with the unruly separatist crowds. Thousands of the civilians and Police and paramilitary personnel have sustained injuries in these clashes which are still unabated.
Official reports from South Kashmir said that around 3,500 people participated in the funeral of Yawar Mushtaq Dar at Botengo and around 6,000 in that of Sayyar Ahmad Sheikh Sheikh at Ganapora Shopian. At both places, the participants shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and waved Pakistani flags.
Sources said that more than 150 protesters got injured in around 50 clashes across Kashmir valley. At some places, demonstrators held peaceful rallies. A thick number of vehicles operated in uptown Srinagar and shops were open after the shutdown ended at 6.00 pm.
Reports from Budgam said that over 30 protesters sustained injuries in clashes with Police and CRPF at Razwen and Dardpora villages where the authorities disrupted the separatists’ programme of a rally. Residents alleged a Police Rakhshak vehicle trampled a youth who was critically injured. He was later rushed to hospital.
According to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Khan, there was no curfew today anywhere in Kashmir valley. “However, restrictions were imposed in few places in Srinagar as also in some towns in the Valley,” he said.
Zonal Police Headquarters bulletin issued in the evening said that six incidents of stone pelting were reported from Anantnag, Kulgam, Sopore, Baramulla and Shopian. “At these places, miscreants assembled on the roads and pelted stones on police and security forces deployments and tried to disturb the movement of the vehicles,” the statement said.
It said that at Shopian about 500 miscreants assembled and pelted stones on police and security force deployments at Tukroo. Police used lathi charge and fired tear smoke shells to disperse the violent mob. One person identified as Sayar Ahmad Sheikh resident of Ganovpora got injured after he was hit by tear smoke shell. He was shifted to Sub District Hospital Rajpora for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries.
The Police spokesman said that at Anantnag about 200 miscreants attacked police and security force deployments at Botengo. “While dealing with the situation police used lathi charge and fired tear gas smoke shells but the miscreants did not yield,” he said adding while dealing with law and order one person identified as Yawar Mushtaq Dar got injured. “He was shifted to hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries,” he said. He added that miscreants also set ablaze Government High School building at Botengo.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]