SRINAGAR, July 21: In Indian administrated Kashmir according to Kashmir Times barring Baramulla, the curfew was today lifted from entire Kashmir. However, normal life continued to remain paralyzed for the third consecutive day in Valley in view of a general strike in protest against the Gool incident. Protest demonstrations were held at several places. Police and CRPF fired rubber bullets, used pellet guns, burst smoke shells and resorted to lathi charge to disperse protestors. Twenty five persons including a 6th standard student, a photo journalist and six cops were injured during the clashes.
Today was the third and final day of strike call given by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman Hurriyat Conference (G). The authorities this morning lifted curfew from whole Kashmir except Baramulla. The security forces and police were withdrawn from majority of the area. However they remained deployed in sensitive areas as a precautionary measure. The authorities said the curfew was lifted following improvement in the situation.
Curfew was imposed on July 19 after massive protests and clashes following the alleged sacrilege of holy Quran and killing of four civilians in BSF and police firing at Gool. Lakhs of people remained hostage in their respective homes because of curfew and they faced shortage of essential commodities. The Srinagar Jammu highway was also closed till yesterday afternoon and Amaranth yatra was also suspended from Jammu. The pilgrimage was resumed today under tight security cover.
Despite the lifting of curfew the life continued to be out of gear. Shops and other business establishments remained closed. Public transport was also off the roads. However some private vehicles were seen plying on roads. The traditional Sunday market in Srinagar was also missing today. No footpath vendor was seen from TRC crossing to Lal Chowk. Because of the strike the roads and markets wore a deserted look. People preferred to remain indoors and only men in uniform registered their presence on the roads and market outside.
Clashes occurred between protestors and police and paramilitary forces at Sarafkadal, Noorbagh, Habbakdal, Daresh Kadal, Khanyar, Nowhatta and some other areas of old city of Srinagar. The cops used pellet guns and tear gassing to disperse the protestors. Large number of people assembled at Pamposh Colony and took out a procession. They started moving towards Main Chowk at Noorbagh. Police stopped them and did not allow them to move forward. This led to clashes between the two sides. Cops used pellet guns and burst dozens of smoke shells.
Panic gripped Palapora area of Noor Bagh when rumours about the death of a boy spread. People in large number took to streets and held protest demonstrations. The cops used force. Curfew was re-imposed in the affected area.
The local people alleged that cops pushed down a youth from the terrace of a one storey house after a stone pelting incident. The youth Jan Mohammad, was immediately shifted to SKIMS where his condition is said to be critical. Doctors attending on him said his back and neck got fractured.
A photo journalist Danish Ismail was injured when a stone hit him at Saraf Kadal area. He was discharging his professional duty. Reports of clashes and tear gassing were also received from Bemina, Barzulla, Rawalpora, Rangreth, HMT and Zainakota in Srinagar.
No relaxation was given in curfew at Baramulla today. The bridges and roads continued to be sealed with barbed wire and armoured vehicles. Youth defied curfew restrictions and clashed with forces at Old Town, Main Chowk, Azad Gunj, Cement Bridge, Chatti Padshahi Bridge, Khanpora Bridge, and Drum Bridge. Police fired rubber bullets, smoke shells and used pellet guns. Four youth were seriously injured. A class sixth student Irfan Ahmad Sheikh received rubber bullet injury on his arm. He had received a bullet injury on leg in February. Clashes also occurred at Bandipora after protests against army’s atrocities. The people alleged that security men entered into their houses last night and ransacked their houses and arrested dozens of persons.
Amid huge deployment of forces in most township of South Kashmir a complete shut was observed in the entire region today against the alleged sacrilege of holy Quran and killing of four civilians in Gool area of Ramban district. However clashes erupted between forces and youth in Pulwama town in the evening.
Forces lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse the stone throwing youth, however nobody was injured
during the clashes. All the shops, business establishments, private offices and petrol pumps remained closed in all the major and small towns of the region even as the authorities had deployed huge contingents of police and para-military force CRPF in the volatile areas.
Traffic also remained completely off the roads in all the areas of south Kashmir. Anantnag and Kulgam remained peaceful as no reports of stone pelting or protests from any area of the twin districts were received. In Shopian, reports said, youth throughout the day resorted to stone throwing at police. “Though there was no deployment in the town but whenever the police moved out for patrolling in the market, the youth pelted stones at them. Several groups of youth engaged the police in pitched battles till evening. However the police exercising restraint did not use any force to quell the stone throwing youth,” reports said.
Reposts of clashes were received from Pulwama town where the restrictions had been put in place throughout the day. “Though there was no curfew in the town but police and CRPF men who were deployed in huge numbers did not allow the assembly of the people. They allowed the movement of the people one by one only during the day,” reports said. They said that in the evening when the deployment was being withdrawn, the youth organised themselves in various groups and resorted to heavy stone throwing at the forces. The youth also attacked the police station with stones. The forces in retaliation fired dozens of tear smoke shells to quell the stone throwing youth. The clashes, reports said continued for more than half an hour, however nobody was injured during the clashes.
Courtesy- YUSRA HUSSAIN/SHABIR AHMAD, Kashmir Times.