With no let up in civilian killings in Kashmir for five consecutive days, a youth was killed and six others seriously injured when forces including cops of Special Operations Group of J&K Police opened fire in Harnag area of South Kashmir’s Ananatnag district on Wednesday, taking the overall death toll in the Valley in five days to 37, witnesses and officials said. Earlier, three more youth succumbed to their injuries while the body of another youth, who had drowned last Friday, was fished out early this morning. With reports of more injuries coming in, the number of injured on Wednesday touched nearly 1600, according to official sources.
Witnesses said forces resorted to indiscriminate firing at protestors in Harnag on Wednesday in which a few youth sustained injuries. A youth identified as Hilal Ahmed Dar, 22, son of Ali Muhammad of Takia-Behram area of Anantnag succumbed to his injuries.
“Hilal received a bullet in his head,” the witnesses said.
Earlier, a youth Javaid Ahmed Lone of Mishipora Kaimoh in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district lost his battle at SKIMS, Soura. He had sustained multiple bullet injuries, according to doctors. Reports said the youth Zahoor Ahmed Matoo of Kisrigam, Kakapora in Pulwama was hit by a tear-gas shell on his back and had drowned in river Jehlum on past Friday. His body was fished out this morning. He had drowned in the river at Padgampora. Another youth, Mushtaq Ahmed Dar of Hadpora, Vesu, Qazigund in Anantnag district also succumbed to his injuries. Reports said Shahid Ahmed Magray of Larnoo, Kokernag also lost his battle for life to multiple injuries. With four fresh deaths, the total death toll touched 37, including 36 civilians and a cop, in just a span of five days.
Government forces opened fire on protesters in Harnag area of Anantnag at 7 pm, killing a youth on the spot. The youth was declared bought dead at District Hospital Anantnag. “It was SOG personnel who directly fired at Hilal,” witnesses said. “It was a target killing.”
As the word about Hilal’s killing spread, people hit the streets and held massive protest demonstrations. They were shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
People were assembling in large numbers to offer his funeral prayers, witnesses said. The protesters also set ablaze Forest Protection Force post at Harnag, after the killing. Violent clashes also broke out in Anantnag’s Old Town areas after the reports of Hilal’s killing spread there.
Forces lobbed tear-gas shells, chilly grenades and used pellet guns to quell the protests, but failed. The protesters did not relent and continued to engage forces in ding-dong battles. Clashes were on in Janglat Mandi, Sherpora, Malaknag, Cheeni Chowk, Lal Chowk and Khanabal areas when this report was being filed in the evening.
Meanwhile, reports said, in Sedaw area of Shopian district, police lobbed tear-gas shells and fired pellets at people on Tuesday evening. Forces, they said, opened fire when a top police official’s cavalcade came under heavy stone-pelting in the area. “The cavalcade was coming from DH Pora area of Kulgam district,” they said.
A 15-year-old class 9th student Insha Jan received critical pellet injures and is being treated at SKIMS Srinagar.
Reports of clashes also came in from Kaimoh and adjoining villages of Khudwani, Redwani, Yaripora and Frisal. Protesters attacked the house of a former renegade turned SOG man at Kujjar-Yaripora and torched it.
Curfew continued for fifth consecutive day in all major towns of South Kashmir—Islamabad, Bijbehara, Kulgam, Kaimoh, Pulwama, Kakpora, Shopian, Awantipora and Pampore, with reports of protests and clashes in these areas also coming in. In Hillad village of Kokernag, CRPF men allegedly went berserk during Tuesday night. They beat up inmates including women and children, locals said. Early morning, people came out and protested the CRPF ‘atrocities’.
“The CRPF men smashed windowpanes of our houses and also of a local mosque,” villagers said.
Reports of protests also poured in from Dooru, Qazigund, Pahlagam, Shangus and Zainapora areas.
Protests also erupted in Tral, the native place of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.
Official sources said curfew will continue in South Kashmir areas for the sixth consecutive day Thursday.
Reports said clashes broke out at Trehgam and Kralpora areas of Kupwara district. Clashes were also reported from Lalpora, Lolab and Langate areas of Handwara. Forces, according to locals, resorted to firing of tear-gas shells to disperse the protestors. A few youth sustained minor injuries at Trehgam and Krapora. Most parts of the district witnessed complete shutdown amid restrictions imposed by the district authorities. Pertinently, authorities have snapped mobile and internet services in Kupwara areas.
Continuing with the restrictions in north Kashmir's Baramulla town, all the bridges connecting Old Town with the Civil Lines areas remained closed. The authorities also closed interior roads in Khawjabagh area which has been witnessing clashes for the past several days.
Intermittent clashes were witnessed at Khanpora Bridge on Wednesday. Police lobbed some teargas shells to disperse the youths.
Clashes also took place in Palhallan area. Locals alleged that police ransacked some residential houses this afternoon which led to massive clashes in the area. Several youths were reported to have suffered injuries during these clashes which include two girls as well. Reports from Uri Baramulla said the entire area witnessed a complete shutdown on Wednesday. Scores of youths held a protest demonstration in main town Uri this morning.
Clashes between police and protesting youths were also reported from Drooru Chandilora area of Tangmarg, this afternoon. Clashes in the area continued for several hours.
CURFEW/CLASHES IN SRINAGAR
Areas falling under six police stations in old Srinagar—Rainawari, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Zadibal, Maharajgunj and Safa Kadal remained under tight curfew while similar curbs were put in place in Maisuma area of civil lines for the fifth consecutive day Wednesday. However, clashes were reported from uptown areas that include Batamaloo, Nowgam and Barzulla. Official sources said curfew will continue to remain in place on Thursday in these areas.
Reports said CRPF and policemen broke windowpanes of Hanfia Masjid Kani Kadal in old Srinagar, triggering protests. Residents said there were mild clashes going on in the area but CRPF and policemen went berserk and attacked the local Masjid at Kani Kadal.
They said that forces resorted to indiscriminate pellet firing in which over a dozen youth sustained injuries.
Reports said forces fired on protestors at Shalteng on Srinagar-Baramulla highway in which a protestor identified as Muhammad Arif sustained serious injuries. Reports said many Srinagar areas witnessed late evening clashes after withdrawal of forces.
Clashes were witnessed at Narbal area of Budgam district amid complete shutdown, reports said.
Clashes and protests erupted at various places on Srinagar-Gulmarg highway from Kaniham to Mazhama. Forces fired dozens of tear-gas shells and also fired some gunshots in the air to quell the protests.
In Gandebral district, reports of clashes also poured in from its main town. Panic gripped Sonamarg after a grenade was found lying on road, police said. “It was destroyed later.”
A police spokesman said the situation in Kashmir remained “under control though some incidents of stone pelting were reported.”
“The stray and intermittent incidents of stone pelting were reported from Khudwani, Kulgam, Putkha Sopore, Main Chowk Sopore, Iman Sahib, Shopian, Kakpora, Kralpora, Kupwara, Trehgam, Langate and Lalpora,” he said.
“Earlier today, militants fired upon the vehicle of SDPO Zainapora near Malik Gund, Imam Sahib Shopian when he was on way to Imam Sahib alongwith law and order deployment. There was no loss of life/injuries in this incident.”
(WITH INPUTS FROM ALTAF BABA FROM BARAMULLA, SHOWKAT DAR FROM PULWAMA, M A DAR FROM BUDGAM, SHEIKH NAZIR FROM GANDERBAL)