August 2019 News

Restrictions On Phones, Movement Return In Kashmir After Clashes

17 August 2019
The Hindu


Srinagar: Authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of Srinagar on Sunday after violent overnight clashes between residents and police left dozens injured, two senior officials and eyewitnesses said. The decision to allow Internet and mobile phone use in parts of the Jammu region was also reversed, according to one official, amid concerns about the spread of rumours. In the past 24 hours, there has been a series of protests against the abrogation of Article 370 following the easing of restrictions on movement and phone use on Saturday morning. The State government has said it has not imposed a curfew over the past two weeks, but on Sunday people were being turned back at multiple roadblocks in the city. Security forces at some roadblocks have told residents there is a curfew. Two senior government officials told Reuters that at least two dozen people were admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes broke out in the old city on August 17 night. Representatives in the Jammu and Kashmir government in Srinagar and New Delhi did not immediately return calls asking about the latest clampdown or seeking an assessment of the number of injuries and clashes. One of the official sources said people threw stones at security forces in around two dozen places across Srinagar. He said the intensity of the stone throwing protests has increased over past few days. The heavy overnight clashes took place mostly in Rainawari, Nowhetta and Gojwara areas of the old city where security forces fired tear gas, chilly grenades and pellets to disperse protesters, eyewitnesses and officials said. Chilly grenades contain very spicy chili pepper, and produce a major eye and skin irritant, as well as a pungent smell, when they are unleashed. The officials, who declined to be identified, said clashes also took place in other parts of the city including Soura, which has seen protests in the last two weeks. Pellet injuries A senior government official and hospital authorities at Srinagar's main hospital said at least 17 people came in there with pellet injuries. They said 12 were discharged while five with grievous injuries were admitted. The hospital officials and a police officer told Reuters that a 65-year-old man, Mohammad Ayub of Braripora, was admitted to the hospital after he had major breathing difficulties when tear gas and chilly grenades were fired in old city area on Saturday afternoon. He died in the hospital on Saturday night and has already been buried, they said. Javed Ahmad, 35, from the wealthy Rajbagh area of Srinagar, was prevented from going to the old city early Sunday morning by paramilitary police at a barricade near the city centre. 'I had to visit my parents there. Troops had blocked the road with concertina wire. They asked me to go back as there was curfew in the area,' he said. Telephone landlines were restored in parts of the city on Saturday after a 12-day blackout, and remained open on Sunday. The State government has said most telephone exchanges in the region would start working by Sunday evening. The internet and cell phones remain blocked in Kashmir. More than 500 political or community leaders and activists remained in detention, and some have been flown to prisons outside the State.

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