Srinagar: Kashmir observed complete shutdown on Saturday to mourn the killing of three civilians in the security forces firing, even as strict restrictions remained in place in most parts of old Srinagar and in many areas of south Kashmir to thwart protests.
Naseer Ahmed Sheikh of Ashtengo Bandipora was shot dead by forces at Rangreth on city outskirts Thursday evening while Muhammad Ashraf, 22, of Kharpora Arwani and class 8th student Ehsan Mushtaq of Shamsipora Qaimoh were killed by forces at Arwani, Bijbhera, during protests near encounter site on Friday.
Life came to a standstill across Kashmir as strike call given by Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik evoked total response.
In Srinagar all business establishments, schools, colleges and financial institutions remained closed while traffic was off the roads.
Authorities imposed strict restrictions in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of five police stations—Khanyar, Maharajgunj, Rainawari, Nowhatta and Safa Kadal in old city. “There was heavy deployment of forces. At many places rolls of concertina wires remained in place to prevent people from staging any protest against civilian killings,” a witness Abdul Rashid told Greater Kashmir.
Another witness Farooq Ahmed said that clashes broke out at Habba Kadal in old city after a group of youth clashed with government forces. “Youth were raising pro-freedom slogans and later resorted to massive stone pelting on CRPF camp. Forces fired dozens of tear gas shells to disperse the protestors,” he said. “The clashes were on till late evening.”
A group of residents from Noorbagh area of Qamarwari alleged that police picked up a few youth, triggering clashes in the area. Soon after the news of detention of youth spread, scores of youth took to the streets and staged demonstrations. The protestors later clashed with police, a witness said.
RESTRICTIONS, SHUTDOWN IN SOUTH KASHMIR:
Government imposed strict curbs in major towns of almost all the districts of south Kashmir to prevent people from hitting the streets and staging demonstrations.
The government forces were deployed in strength in volatile areas as people were seen rushing towards Shopian, Pampore and Kulgam to participate in the funeral of three militants killed in a gunfight with government forces at Arwani, Bijbehara in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Friday.
All the shops remained closed and traffic was off the roads.
Complete shutdown was observed in Pampore, Tral and Awantipora areas against the killing of three militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and three civilians. Srinagar-Jammu highway wore a deserted look as both private and public vehicles remained off the road.
CLASHES IN TRAL:
In Tral sub-district, clashes between youth and government forces erupted at court road and Nawdal village.
Reports said that all entry and exit points were sealed with barbed wires amid heavy deployment of forces in Pampore town. However, people defied the restrictions to reach Frestbal. Throughout the day, dozens of youth were hurling bricks and stones on the government forces at Kadalbal, Drangbal and Frestbal areas.
Mild clashes were reported at Khudwani, Redwani areas of Kulgam district.
Southern districts of Pulwama and Shopian also remained shut to mourn militant and civilian killings.
Security forces beat locals at Bijbehara:
The government forces allegedly barged into houses of civilians and thrashed them in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara town injuring at least eight persons, locals told Greater Kashmir.
Reports said that militants fired at the SICOP (J&K Small Scale Industries Development Corporation Limited) building, housing a camp of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) 90 battalion, from a nearby Karewa (high ground). A company of Army’s 1RR is also camped in a portion of the complex.
Locals said exchange of fire between militants and forces continued for sometime. However, Police, Army and CRPF denied the reports of any militant attack. “It was a stray bullet fired somewhere. It was not an attack on any camp in Anantnag,” a police spokesperson said.
Soon after the firing incident government forces cordoned off the area and launched searches.
CRPF men, according to locals, barged into many houses in Karewa colony and thrashed the inmates, including women, and ransacked property. Eight persons sustained serious injuries and were shifted to SDH Bijbehara. “All of them have assault injuries and most of them had fractured bones. Seven are being treated here while one was shifted to District Hospital Anantnag,” doctors said.
They identified the injured as Liyaqat Hussain Zargar, his father Nazir Ahmad Zargar, Gul Muhmad, Jan Muhammad, Bial Ahmad, Shahid Sultan, Zahid Ahmad and Feroze Ahmad. “The CRPF men even dragged out one person on Aitiqaaf (10 days meditation in Ramadhan month) from a Masjid and thrashed him too,” locals told this newspaper.
They said that CRPF men hit the people with guns and bamboo sticks. A media person – Fida Hussain – was also roughed up and his vehicle damaged by the CRPF men.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Anantnag Zubair Khan said, “Some people were beaten up by forces after stones were hurled on them.”
CRPF spokesperson Rajesh Yadav feigned ignorance when asked about locals being thrashed by CRPF men.
‘Locals beaten at Shopian’:
Government forces beat up over a dozen people who were later hospitalized when the force personnel allegedly barged into their houses in Turkawangam, Shopian, in south Kashmir last night, residents said.
Similar incident had taken place at the same village four days ago. The residents alleged that force personnel last night barged into the houses and beat up the inmates including men, women and vandalized property, cars after forcing their way into dozens of houses in the village during night. “The forces ruthlessly thrashed people and damaged houses,” a local informed.
At least 14 residents were injured, most of them had fractured bones who were today taken to the hospital, they said. “We now have no option but to migrate from here to save our lives. We have become soft target for forces,” locals said.
“The forces did not beat up anyone and no one was injured,” an army official said.
North Kashmir’s Baramulla district observed complete shutdown on Saturday.
Sopore town remained closed against civilian killings. There was no traffic movement on the roads and people preferred not to venture out from there residential houses.
Reports from other areas of the district which include Tangmarg, Wagoora, Kreeri, Rafiabad, Palhallan and Pattan revealed that shutdown call given by Kashmir’s Joint Resistance Leadership evoked complete response and all the business activities remained paralyzed.
CURBS TO CONTINUE IN SRINAGAR:
District administration on Saturday said that restrictions would remain in place in jurisdiction of five police stations on Sunday.
Deputy Magistrate Srinagar, Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, said restrictions under Section 144 will be imposed in Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Safakadal and MR Gunj police stations. Admit cards of UPSC for civil services preliminary exam will be treated as curfew passes.
Mirwaiz under house arrest, other also caged:
Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was once again placed under house detention in the morning, while as Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani continued to remain under house arrest. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chief Muhammad Yasin Malik was arrested and sent to Central Jail Srinagar on Friday.
Many other resistance leaders including Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan, Muhammad Ashraf Sherai and scores of others are either under house arrest or are in preventive police custody.