Srinagar: Summer capital here on Tuesday erupted in massive anti-India protests as authorities lift curfew after 17 days. Scores of persons were hurt as police resorted to massive teargas shelling in city including near Lal Chowk.
According to eyewitnesses, the people of Srinagar’s Old City and other areas were today surprised to see no presence of government forces in their respective areas. In view of the afternoon deal in shutdown call, the authorities had not imposed any curfew in Srinagar. However, forces were deployed in large numbers at Maisuma.
The witnesses said that hundreds of youths in almost all the areas of Old City took to streets in the morning, blocked roads and started pro-freedom protests. The youths also played ‘Taranas’ in mosques of the downtown and the wave of protests spread to other parts of the City in uptown.
Two large processions were intercepted by government forces at Safa Kadal and Baba Demb areas of Old City with police resorting to massive teargas shelling and pellet firing. At least eight protesters sustained injuries in the police action but protests continued. The clashes also erupted at Saida Kadal, Rainawari, Nowpora, Nawa Kadal, Darish Kadal areas.
However, the situation turned extremely tense after a huge procession — enroute to Lal Chowk — of youths from Old City areas reached Budshah Chowk was intercepted by police. The police lobbed dozens of teargas shells towards the processions, ensuing clashes between the two sides. The police chased the protesters from Hari Singh High Street, Exhibition crossing and Shaheed Gunj Old Secretariat.
The protesters however also responded by pelting stones. Later clashes erupted in near DC office and adjoining areas. The clashes also spread to Kani Kadal, Chotta Bazar, Batamaloo and Karan Nagar. Reports said that several protesters were injured in the clashes. Shutters of the fewer shops which had opened up after 2 PM in Lal Chowk were downed.
Authorities had not lifted curfew from Anantnag district of south Kashmir but clashes erupted at several places in the district. At Charsoo in Awantipora, a large procession was taken out by people. The protesters in Sumbal attacked local police station while at Warpora Sopore, people pelted stones on police post. A CRPF camp at SDH Sopore was also stoned by youths.
Reports from north Kashmir areas said that some shops opened in wake of Hurriyat’s relaxation call. But overall, the shutdown continued across the Kashmir Valley. Police sources said that a strict curfew would be clamped in most parts of the Srinagartomorrow to prevent escalation of protests.(GNS)