Malik continues to be in police custody | Thousands attempt to march towards South Kashmir town | Amid curfew, protests continue across Valley | 30 injured in day-long clashes | Banihal observes shutdown
The J&K government on Monday foiled the resistance camp’s proposed march to south Kashmir’s Anantnag (Islamabad) district with imposition of stringent curfew and restrictions and detained senior resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, even as scores of people were injured by forces as fresh protests and clashes broke out mostly in southern areas of the Valley.
According to witnesses, forces resorted to heavy tear-gas shelling and pellet firing in South Kashmir areas to prevent people from reaching Anantnag town where Geelani, Mirwaiz and JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik had asked people to assemble for solidarity with families who lost their kin to action by forces in the past 17 days. While Geelani and Mirwaiz were detained by police after they attempted to break the cordon around their residences, Malik continued to remain lodged in Kothibagh police station here.
According to witnesses, protests and clashes continued for 17th consecutive day across Kashmir, including areas of summer capital Srinagar, amid curfew and restrictions. In these clashes, at least 30 youth sustained injuries.
At least 30 people sustained injuries, few of them critical, as government forces used force to quell protests in Anantnag areas. Police and paramilitary forces, wearing riot-gear and armed with sophisticated weapons, were deployed in strength in every nook and corner of Anantnag town and no one was allowed to venture out, witnesses said. The forces had erected concertina wire at various places to prevent people from marching towards Lal Chowk area of the town, as part of the resistance camp’s programme. All the entry and exit points of the town had been sealed with barricades. However, thousands of people from Dachnipora village of Bijbehara and Pahalgam took an alternative route and tried to reach Lal Chowk (Anantnag) but were dispersed by forces near Anchidora.
As people from Sallar, Kullar, Liver, Sringufwara, Sirhama, Mehand, Khiram, Kanelwan, Aang, Matipor and other villages reached Anchidora, police and CRPF resorted to baton charge and then used pellet guns to quell the protest rally, witnesses told Greater Kashmir. They said around a dozen persons sustained injuries in the forces’ action. Three of the injured with multiple pellet injuries were being treated at District Hospital Anantnag. One bystander—50-year-old Muhammad Yousuf of Matipra village also received multiple injuries after being severely thrashed by CRPF men, the witnesses said. He is being treated at district hospital Anantnag for multiple fractures.
Several youth were also rounded up by police, triggering protests.
People from Tral, Arwani, Sangam, Marhama, Naynoo boarded vehicles and proceeded towards Anantnag town through various interior routes but were stopped near Bijbehara town.
“Government forces resorted to baton-charge, lobbed teargas shells and used pellet gun, injuring several protesters,” witnesses said. Few CRPF men and cops were also injured in the clashes that erupted later.
CRPF men, according to locals, later went berserk, barged into houses and beat up inmates in Goriwan locality of Bijbehara town. Protest demonstrations were also held in Achabal area of the district. “Men, women and children were seen marching towards Anantnag but police, CRPF fired teargas shells and pellets and resorted to baton-charge, injuring several people,” local residents said.
They alleged that in Trehpoo village of Achabal, CRPF men ran amok, barged into houses and beat up inmates including women and children. “The forces also ransacked household goods,” they said.
Massive protests also erupted in Kaimoh area of Kulgam district. Youth came out on streets and clashed with forces at Khudwani and Redwani villages. “The forces lobbed teargas shells and used pellet guns, injuring dozens of people,” witnesses said.
Two injured teenagers who sustained pellet injuries in eyes were shifted to District hospital Anantnag where from they were referred to a Srinagar hospital.
Reports of protests and clashes were also received from Tahab and Ruhuma areas of Pulwama district, and from Awantipora villages as well.
Protest demonstrations were also held in Tral town and adjoining villages where mosques were reverberated with pro-freedom slogans.
In Anantnag town, a pro-freedom demonstration was taken out in the evening.
People shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans marched towards Lal Chowk.
A building of Irrigation department, near Women’s College at Anantnag, was set ablaze late on Monday evening, reports said.
GEELANI, MIRWAIZ DETAINED
Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani was detained outside his Hydeprora residence after he defied restrictions and tried to lead a march towards Anantnag (Islamabad) to express solidarity with the families of slain youth. He was asked to board a police vehicle and later lodged in police station Humhama, witnesses said.
Talking to journalists before his detention, Geelani said Kashmiris will continue with their struggle till freedom comes.
“The sacrifices of youth won’t go waste and nobody will be allowed to barter these sacrifices,” he said.
Praising the people of Kashmir especially youth for following the programs of pro-freedom leadership, Geelani said arrests, curfew and restrictions can’t weaken the ongoing freedom struggle.
He termed the Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Kashmir and External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj’s statements as meaningless.
“Kashmir issue is not a border issue but a human and a political issue and should be addressed politically,” he said.
Geelani appealed teachers to voluntarily teach students in their respective localities. Appealing government employees to follow the programs of pro-freedom leadership, the Hurriyat (G) chairman said the government employees are “part of our society and they should also follow the programs of pro-freedom leadership.”
He appealed to the world community to come forward for resolution of Kashmir dispute. “Not only Pakistan, but the whole world should come forward and support Kashmiris in achieving their goal,” he said.
Lashing out at police and the state administration for using excessive and unnecessary force against people, Geelani said: “Our programs are always peaceful and disciplined but the police and the other forces deliberately create trouble and then blame the pro-freedom people for it.”
The Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also defied curbs and tried to lead a protest march towards Anantnag. He, however, was detained by the police outside his residence and lodged in police station Nigeen.
Talking to media persons, Mirwaiz condemned the “oppressive tactics” of the government and said killing, injuring, maiming and blinding people, especially the youth, are the “worst forms of state terrorism.”
“Imposing curfew, restrictions and curbs on people for demanding their basic right of self-determination is highly condemnable. People’s right to peaceful assembly and protest should be restored forthwith and forces be withdrawn and leadership and people be allowed to visit the families of martyrs,” Mirwaiz said.
He said the resistance leadership has asked the freedom-loving people of Kashmir to move towards South Kashmir to pay tributes to the martyrs and express their condolences, sympathy and solidarity with the victim families. “But using force to prevent people from mourning and expressing their protest against gruesome acts is deplorable,” he said.
Mirwaiz said by adopting “intransigent and rigid approach”, New Delhi is just prolonging the crisis and its “military and iron-fist approach cannot suppress the voice of the people.”
“Kashmir is a political issue which needs to be resolved through political engagement among all the parties—people of Kashmir, India and Pakistan,” he said and appealed people across Kashmir to “remain steadfast in carrying the resistance movement forward.”
Pertinently, most of the pro-freedom leaders are either under house arrest or lodged in various police stations.
These include Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Ayaz Akbar, Advocate Shahidul Islam, Javaid Ahmed Mir and Mukhtar Ahmed Waza. Meanwhile, Geelani and Mirwaiz were released in the evening and placed under house arrest again.
While uptown areas of Srinagar including Nowgam, Natipora, Hyderpora, Zeewan, Khonmoh witnessed clashes between youth and forces, areas falling under 12 police stations continued to remained under curfew for the 17th consecutive day.
An official said they will review the situation and accordingly lift curfew from Srinagar areas “soon.”
Reports said late evening clashes were reported from Khanyar, Khankah-e-Moula, Rainawari and Kathi-Darwaza localities where forces resorted to firing of tear gas shells to disperse the protestors.
Late evening clashes were reported from Habba Kadal, Kani Kadal, Nowhatta, Baba Demb and other areas.
Reports said clashes were witnessed in many areas of Ganderbal and Kangan. Similar clashes were reported from Ompora in Budgam and Safapora, Manasbal, Baroosa, Saloora, Check-Duderhama and Kulan in Ganderbal district. There was no curfew in the district, but complete shutdown was observed by people.
Amid strict curfew, hundreds of youth in Old Town Baramulla attempted to march towards Anantnag but the district authorities foiled their attempt by raising barricades on all routes leading to the highway connecting Baramulla with Srinagar.
People comprising youth, children and women—chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans—took out a procession from Jamia Baramulla and after passing through different areas of Old Town, ended it at Azad Gunj. Near Azad Gunj Bridge, the protesters staged a peaceful demonstration till noon.
In Sopore, a massive protest march was taken out in connection with the Anantnag march call. The protestors marched from various areas that include Bapora, Arampora, Muslim Peer and other areas amid pro-freedom and pro-Islam sloganeering. They expressed solidarity with civilians killed in the past 17 days.
Meanwhile, Sopore observed complete shutdown against the civilian killings. In the evening, all masjids reverberated with pro-freedom slogans.
A police spokesman said the situation throughout Kashmir remained peaceful and under control.
“There was no curfew in most of the towns/areas of Kashmir although curfew remained imposed in 12 police stations of Srinagar and towns of Awantipora, Kulgam, Baramulla, Pattan and Anantnag,” he said.
He said Karwan-i-Aman bus service also resumed today and 73 passengers left Srinagar in the morning and reached Kaman Post Uri safely.
“There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley although some stray stone pelting incidents were reported from some places,” the police spokesman said.
SHUTDOWN IN BANIHAL
Reports said complete shutdown was observed in Banihal against the civilian killings in Kashmir. Witnesses said all shops and business establishments remained closed for the day in solidarity with the people of Kashmir.