4 killed, dozens injured as Valley goes up in flames30 July 2010
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: After relative calm of nearly one week, four youth were killed in Sopore and Pattan towns of Baramulla district and nearly 70 persons including six police personnel were injured elsewhere in Kashmir valley in stone-pelting by protestors and firing by security forces. The authorities had imposed curfew like restrictions across Kashmir valley to foil plans of the hard line Hurriyat Conference faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani to hold a rally at Maisuma in heart of the city, official sources said. Despite restrictions and deployment of large number of security force personnel at all sensitive places in the Valley, violent protests were reported from more than a dozen places in Kashmir, the sources said. Hundreds of residents from Amargarh area in Sopore marched out on the roads after Friday prayers in an attempt to reach towards Maisuma on the call of hard line faction of Hurriyat Conference. The sources said the protestors were stopped by security forces, leading to clashes which lasted several hours. The security forces opened firing on the protestors, resulting in critical injuries to five persons who were referred to hospitals here for treatment. Showkat Ahmad Chopan and Mohammad Ahsan Ganai succumbed to injuries while the other three were battling for life at SKIMS and SMHS hospital. The second deadly incident took place in Pattan area of Baramulla district as a 14-year-old boy was reportedly killed in security forces firing. The local residents claimed that police and CRPF personnel opened unprovoked firing on them as they had gheraoed the solice station demanding release of the youth arrested over past several days. The residents said four persons sustained bullet injuries in the firing and one of them, identified as Adil Ahmad, succumbed while on way to hospital. Agitated over death of the boy, a mob attacked the police station and started pelting stones at the building. They entered the premises and set a vehicle and an annexe of the police station on fire. Another injured, identified as Nazir Ahmad Mir, also succumbed to injuries at SKIMS, Soura in the city, doctors in the Surgical ICU of the hospital said. Mir, a baker by profession, was hit by a bullet in the head, they said. However, police officials did not confirm the death. Five police personnel including the SHO Abdul Majeed were injured in the stone pelting. Police and civil administration officials including Special Commissioner for north Kashmir Mohammad Sayeed Khan refused to confirm or deny any of the incidents in Pattan area. They said since the communication lines with Pattan police station had been snapped, there was no authentic word on the happenings there. The violence began early in the morning in Chanapora area of the summer capital as CRPF personnel opened fire on a group of protestors who were pelting stones at their picket. Three persons were injured including one of them critically. He has been identified as Iqbal Ahmad Khan. Sources said the bullet had pierced through the skull of Khan, entering from ear and leaving through the eye. He has been admitted to Intensive Care Unit of SKIMS, Soura. As the news of firing spread around, the adjoining areas of the Barzulla, Rambagh, Natipora, Kralpora and Bagh-e-Mehtab erupted as stone pelting began in these areas soon after the Friday prayers. Security forces fired several rounds of tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors but in vain. The police then fired more than two dozen rounds in air and chased the protestors deep inside the densely populated localities to bring the situation under control. At least 20 persons were hurt during the clashes but all were given first aid and discharged. Clashes between protestors and security forces were continuing in many parts of the city till 2200 hours while residents gathered in Mosques at several localities to protest against the police action. Slogan shouting, reminiscent of 1990, was going on inside the mosques at the time of filing of this report. Protests were also held at Kreeri in Pattan area as the residents wanted to know whereabouts of a youth who has been reported missing for the past three days. Special Operations Group (SOG) of local police fired dozens of warning shots when hundreds of people surrounded their camp to know the whereabouts of Farhat Bashir. The residents alleged that Bashir was picked up by SOG along with two dozen others during a demonstration three days ago. While rest of the youth were let off, no information was given about the whereabouts of Bashir. The protestors dispersed peacefully after a senior police official of the area assured the people that investigations to trace the youth would be expedited. At least 15 persons were injured as hundreds of protestors clashed with security forces in Tral town of south Kashmir Pulwama district after Friday prayers. The protestors raised slogans against the recent killing of youth in Kashmir valley. Security forces fired several rounds of tear smoke shells and used batons to chase away the protestors, who retaliated by pelting stones at them. One of the injured Mohammad Younis was hit by a teargas shell in the face and admitted to SMHS hospital here. Protests were also witnessed in Shopian district headquarter town as a group of youth took to streets and pelted stones on the Deputy Commissionerís office. At least 10 persons were injured in the ensuing clashes. Meanwhile, the separatist march to Maisuma was foiled by the authorities by imposing strict restrictions on movement of the people across entire Kashmir valley. Normal life has been hit in the Valley for the past six weeks as the authorities imposed curfew and restrictions while separatists called for strikes to protest the killings of several youths in alleged firing by security forces. The death toll in such incidents since June 11 has now gone up to 22.