Srinagar, Aug 15, CNS: Kashmir continued to reel under strict curfew for the 38th consecutive day as death toll mounted to 61 (including two cops) after a 17 year old boy from Badipora Tangmarg succumbed to his injuries.
Police said that restrictions under section 144/CrPC remained in force in the Valley while as curfew was imposed in some parts of Srinagar and in the towns of Anantnag and Sopore. Hospital sources said that an 18-year-old boy Ishfaq Ahmad of Badipora Tangmarg breathed his last here in SKIMS on Monday afternoon. Reports said that a large number of people staged a pro-freedom protest at Badipora Tangmarg shortly after the news about the death of youth spread in the area.
At least 12 persons were wounded two of them critically when Para-military troopers resorted to pellet firing on protesters in Aripanthan Beerwah village of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday. Locals alleged that a police party in a bid to give safe passage to a Government Officer smashed the windowpanes of some of the residential houses at Aripanthan village.
“Scores of youth had blocked the road. A Government Officer on way to Beerwah from Srinagar sought help from police who arrived on the spot and dispersed the youth by firing tear-smoke shells. This incident occurred at 7 in the morning,” a group of locals told CNS.
They added that after attending the function at Beerwah when the same Government Officer returned, the youth had again blocked the road. “She again sought help from the police. A large contingent of CRPF personnel arrived on spot while the youth pelted stones on them. The CRPF personnel fired pellets and tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters. At least 12 persons were injured in CRPF action. Two protesters Adil Ahmed and Ghulam Muhammad Bhat received pellets in the face and were shifted to Srinagar hospital,” the locals said and alleged that some policemen caused damaged to houses during clashes. Latest reports said that a massive procession was going on in the area.
When contacted a police official said that some protesters tried to attack an ambulance. “The protesters resorted to heavy stone-pelting. We exercised maximum restraint,” he said.
Reports from North Kashmir said that scores of youth clashed with armed forces in Nathpora area of Bandipora district on Monday morning, amid a strict curfew imposed in entire district to thaw any “untoward” incident. Sources said that forces used heavy tear smoke shells to quell the protesting youth. The intense clashes between left many security men and protesters injured.
Stone-pelting incidents were reported from many parts of Valley while at couple of places, protesters attacked police posts with stones. In Shopian district protesters pelted stones on Police Post Keegam, at Memender the protesters assembled on road and pelted stones on government forces deployments. At Balpora, Shopian scores of youth pelted stones upon an army camp. At Aragam, Bandipora protesters assembled and pelted stones on Police Station Aragam. At Pothkhah, Sopore about a large number of people assembled on the road and pelted stones on Police post Potkhah. At Trehgam, Kupwara protesters pelted stones on government forces deployment.
Meanwhile, amid unprecedented security measures by establishment to conduct August 15 celebrations peacefully, a complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir with roads wearing a deserted look and all commercial established closed. This was the 38th day when people observed shutdown amid curfew, protest rallies and restrictions. The strike was called by united resistance leaders.
“We had made elaborate arrangements to thwart any attack by militants,” a senior police officer said adding that militants who targeted CRPF personnel near Nowhata were probably on way to city centre, however, the strict security measures taken by authorities foiled their designs.
“A three-tier security cover was in place to deal with any challenge. All functions were held smoothly across the Valley,” he said.
The movement of participants of the August 15 functions including legislators and other VIPS was monitored through Close Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) camera. Police have already installed nearly a dozen new CCTVs to ensure a tight vigil on the suspects. At least 20 such cameras were already installed at various points in Srinagar as part of the security measure.
In old Srinagar, police and paramilitary military had closed all roads by placing barbed wires thereby preventing people from venturing out of their homes. A separatist leader told CNS that the strike should send a clear message to Indian leadership and the world community that Kashmiris will not accept “preponderance of any nation.”
“Kashmiris would continue with their struggle with full commitment to achieve their cherished right to self determination,” he said. “Kashmiris can’t be suppressed by means of military might forever. The Government of India should accept the reality that Kashmir is a political dispute which needs to be solved on urgent basis.”
All the separatist leaders have either been placed under house arrest or lodged in police stations. Kashmir has been witnessing unprecedented anti-India protests from past 37 days after the death of Hizb commander Burhan Wani. More than 50 people have died in the ongoing protests while hundreds of youth have suffered pellet injuries and some of them have lost eye-sight.
Reports from South Kashmir said that four districts as well as towns witnessed tight security cover amid complete shutdown. Heavy deployment of forces was seen at every nook and corner of Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Tral and Shopian towns. The roads leading to the police lines Pulwama and Shopian were completely sealed and no one was allowed to move without complete checking.
“Keeping in view the recent surge in protests, the security had been intensified as compared to previous years. We don’t want any untoward incident to happen and want the day should pass peacefully,” police said.
Reports said that complete shutdown was observed in North Kashmir’s Baramulla, Bandipora, Kupwara, Handwara, and central Kashmir’s Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts. (CNS)