Youth drowns in Jhelum while being chased by CRPF
Valley-wide clashes, demonstrations on 55th day of shutdown; curfew being imposed as separatists plan bigger clashes on Friday
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Sep 1: An eighteen-year-old youth, who was reportedly part of a crowd of the stone pelters, drowned in river Jhelum while being chased by CRPF in downtown Srinagar on 55th day of continued shutdown and violent clashes between protesters and Police across Kashmir valley on Thursday.
Residents of Palpora Noorbagh on downstream Srinagar complained that 18-year-old Danish Ahmad Haroon drowned in Jhelum when CRPF was chasing a group of youths during a clash in their neighbourhood. They told Police that four youths jumped into the river to save their lives. Three of them swam successfully to the opposite side and reached home but Danish drowned. They claimed that he was dead as he remained untraced till late in the night.
Local divers conducted searches in the river downstream but failed to find Danish dead or alive. If he is found dead he will be the 72nd persons, including three Police personnel, killed in the 55-day-long turbulence after militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8.
SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar told STATE TIMES that even as Police had no confirmation to the youth’s drowning or death, it took cognizance of the family members’ complaint and started searching for him. He said that no dead body was spotted in the river till late tonight. SSP said that Police had requisitioned a contingent of Marine Commandos (Marcos) who would carry out a comprehensive search operation if the residents cooperated in the morning on Friday.
Meanwhile, around 70 demonstrations and clashes of unruly crowds with Police and CRPF were reported from all the ten districts of Kashmir valley. Reports said that the separatists enforced shutdown with stone pelting on the vehicles in movement at hundreds of places in the Valley. However, a section of private vehicles operated without major disturbance in Civil Lines areas and Airport area. With no movement of Police or security forces, disorderly groups of youngsters put up barriers, frisked motorists, checked their identity cards and sent them back.
Reports said that a number of vehicles, which were found plying in defiance of the separatists’ shutdown call, were damaged in the stone pelting and many of the drivers were roughed up for violation. Over 95% of the vehicles were off the road like in the last 55 days.
All shops, with the exception of pharmacies, besides private offices and other businesses, educational institutions and banks remained closed. Government offices were found open in many areas but attendance of the employees were extremely thin.
Informed sources said that over 30 clashes took place between the protesters and Police/CRPF in the summer capital where restrictions remained in force in a part of the downtown. Sporadic stone pelting was reported even from the well-managed areas of Hari Singh High Street and Rawatpora Barzullah. Reports said that some peaceful demonstrations were organised by the separatists in South Kashmir.
Most of the protest demonstrations turned violent as Police and CRPF clashed with the crowds shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and waving dozens of Pakistani national flags. Official figures of the injured were not available till late. However, sources said that 34 persons were admitted to SMHS Hospital and 18 to SKIMS Medical College Bemina. In all around a hundred people are estimated to have sustained injuries in Thursday’s clashes.
Like in the last about eight weeks, most of the organised crowds, peaceful and violent, were reported from the South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian. Sources said that ahead of the visit of All-party delegation of the Indian Parliamentarians on September 4 and 5, separatists were likely to arrange for more and more demonstrations and clashes on Friday. Authorities are likely to impose curfew in Srinagar and some other major towns in the Valley.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]