Pulwama youth killed as curfew, shutdown, protests mark another Friday

Srinagar: A youth on Friday was killed in government forces’ action at Rajpora area of south Kashmir’s restive Pulwama district as authorities foil ‘Eidgah chalo’ call by imposing strict curfew across Srinagar and in all major towns of Valley. Scores of persons were injured as clashes erupt after Friday prayers across the Valley.

With no let up in civilian killings, a youth namely Shakeel Ahmad Ganai of Chandpora Rajpora was killed when forces resorted to pellet firing in Nikas Aarbal area of Rajpora on protesters after Friday prayers. Reports said that the youth sustained grave injuries and he was shifted to Pulwama Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, taking the death toll in ongoing unrest of civilians to 69.

Reports said that soon after the news spread about the death of youth, hundreds of people took to streets in Rajpora villages and staged massive protests. The protesters were chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and resorted to heavy stone-pelting on forces who responded by firing teargas shells and pellets. The fresh clashes resulted in injuries to eight persons.

In the wake of Eidgah March call, the authorities since early morning sealed all the roads to Eidgah area and continued with strict curfew across Srinagar and more-strictly in Old City by deploying thousands of police and CRPF personnel. While as curfew remained enforced in Batamaloo and Maisuma areas of Civil Lines, it was extended to some new areas to thwart the march.

Due to stringent curfew, the Friday congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid could not be offered as forces didn’t allow anyone to venture out of his or her residence. Despite rains and curfew, hundreds of people including women took to streets at Dalgate area of Srinagar and tried to march towards Eidgah. Amid massive pro-Azadi slogans, the protesters were however stopped by police.

Two senior pro-freedom leaders and chairmen of their Hurriyat factions, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani tried to march towards Eidgah by defying house arrests but police immediately swung into action and detained both of them. A Hurriyat (M) spokesman said that after being detained from Nigeen, Miwaiz was shifted to an undisclosed location. There was no word from police.

The curfew also remained enforced in other townships of Valley but protests and clashes broke out at dozens of places. In Baramulla Town, clashes broke out between police and forces after Friday prayers. Police fired teargas and used stun grenades to disperse the protesters. Five persons were injured as clashes broke out at Bandipora Town of north Kashmir.

The clashes between forces and protesters also broke out at Watpora Qazipora and Aloosa in Bandipora district. Several protesters were reported to have sustained in these clashes. Besides, reports said, several peaceful protests were also held at multiple places in the district after Friday prayers.

The violent protests also broke out at Pattan and Palhallan areas of Baramulla district after Friday prayers during which police used teargas and pellets against the protesters. Though peaceful protests were held at multiple areas of Kupwara district, but violence erupted at Kulangam in Handwara and in Lalpora Lolab.

In south Kashmir, six CPI (M) and one NC workers resigned publicly at Bogam in Kulgam district as peaceful protests were held in the area. At Vihil Chowdhary Gund area of Shopian, the protesters resorted to heavy stone-pelting on 62 RR camp of army. The army resorted to aerial firing but no one was hurt. At Baba Mohalla in Shopian, one Waseem Ahmad Tak sustained pellet injuries during clashes between forces and youths after Friday prayers.

Heavy clashes between locals and forces including SOG erupted at Noorpora Tral after the forces tried to cordon off the area following inputs about the presence of some militants. The locals however resisted and foiled the search and cordon operation during which they pelted stones. The forces responded by firing teargas, pellets and aerial firing. The stonepelting clashes also erupted at Chursoo in Awantipora along National Highway.

A police official said that though there was one death in Pulwama’s Rajpora, the situation across Valley remained well compared to previous Fridays. “There were clashes and protests but not on previous scale due to rains apparently,” he said. (GNS)

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