Strike In Pulwama
Srinagar, Aug 5: Clashes broke out in old city between protesters and police Friday afternoon against the curbs on the movement of Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, even as the government put all the top separatist leaders under house detention. Protests were witnessed in north and south Kashmir as Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani had called for peaceful protests against the custodial death of a youth in Sopore.
Soon after the Friday prayers were over at the historic Jamia Masjid here, the residents and devotees at Nowhatta gathered to take out a peaceful rally led by Imam Hi to denounce the curbs laid on Mirwaiz by the government.
As the participants in the rally started marching and chanting pro-freedom slogans, police and CRPF men who were already deployed in the area swung into action. They fired numerous tear gas canisters and cane charged protesters.
In retaliation, protesters divided themselves into batches and started hurling stones on the forces. The pitched battles continued resulting in minor bruises to four people. The clashes were also witnessed in Gojwara area.
The media men covering the incident alleged that concerned SP and SDPO instructed their forces to target them. “They beat up some photographers and tried to snatch the cameras,” a photographer said.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has strongly condemned, what he said, the use of indiscriminate force by the armed forces against peaceful protesters outside Central Jamia Masjid.
Mirwaiz also condemned the use of force by police against the media men covering the protests.
Hurriyat Conference has accused the government of playing with people’s religious sentiments by keeping their religious leadership under continued house arrest.
CRPF personnel today allegedly ransacked some shops at Nowhatta. Proprietor of Fancy Footwear near J&K Bank Nowhatta alleged that the personnel of CRPF at around 5.30 pm ransacked several shops and broke their showcases and damaged the goods.
“Although there was stone pelting going on from the other side, there was nothing wrong from this side. But the CRPF personnel without any provocation broke the showcases of some four shops including my shop,” he said.
In North Kashmir’s Sopore area, as the Friday prayers were over in Jamia Masjid the people attempted to bring out a rally against the custodial death of a youth due to torture in police custody. But the heavy contingents of police and CRPF did not allow the protestors to come out. People raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans inside the premises of the Masjid.
Later the protesters started pelting stones on law enforcing agencies after the latter used batons in an attempt to chase them away. The police fired teargas shells on the people.
Protests were also witnessed in South Kashmir town of Islamabad. People gathered outside the Jamia Ahlihadith Mosque after Friday prayers and staged pro-freedom demonstrations. The protesters proceeded towards Lal Chowk and later dispersed peacefully. Earlier, police and paramilitary forces were deployed in every nook and corner of the old town to thwart any protests. Meanwhile, police has launched a massive crackdown and has detained several youth in the town on charges of stone pelting.
A complete shutdown was observed in several villages of Pulwama district today against the killing of a local militant by the government forces on Thursday.
Reports said that shops and schools remained closed while traffic was off the roads in Trech, the native village of Shakoor Ahmad Teli, a district commander of LeT killed in an encounter with forces in Puchal village yesterday.
Shutdown was also observed in the adjoining villages of Lajoora, Puchal, Galibugh and Ratnipora.
Six civilians and nine police personnel were injured when people protested after Shakoor got trapped in a gunfight with government forces on Thursday. They marched towards the encounter site and pelted stones and bricks at the government forces which were retaliated with teargas shells, batons and aerial firing.
However, the militant was later killed after a fierce gun battle. Following this, the angry protesters again entered into clashes with police and torched a police vehicle.