Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Protests against Indian rule continue in Kashmir


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Srinagar, Sept 9: Unabated violent protests continued in old city on Tuesday as protesters fought pitched battles with police at various locations on the Chaharum (fourth day ceremony) of the Javaid Ahmad Bhat killed in police firing in Nowhatta on Saturday. Nineteen persons were wounded in firing and tear smoke shelling by the police and paramilitary troopers in various parts of old city while 14 others sustained injuries at Islamabad.
Shops and business establishments at Nowhatta, Hawal, Gojwara, Safa Kadal, Rajouri Kadal and adjoining areas remained closed in protest against the killing of Javaid Ahmad as hundreds of youth took to streets and shouted pro-freedom and anti-government slogans. They pelted stones on police and paramilitary forces and burnt rubber tyres. The demonstrators shouted slogans against the unprovoked firing of troops on unarmed protestors and atrocities committed by CRPF and police in the Valley.
At Nowhatta, the protestors engaged the police and CRPF in ding-dong battles to which the police retaliated with aerial firing and tear smoke shelling. In the incident, 18 persons sustained injuries and were shifted to various city hospitals. The CRPF troopers opened fire on protesters at Nowhatta in the evening wounding Zahoor Ahmad, who was shifted to SKIMS where is condition was stated to be critical. The incident triggered massive protests in the area which were going on when reports last came in.
To prevent protests on the Chaharum of Javaid, the administration had deployed police and paramilitary forces in strength. Thousands of people from the old city participated in the condolence meeting at Javaid’s residence. Later, the mourners took out a huge procession towards martyrs graveyard at Eid Gah where they offered Fateh to the martyr Javaid. The CRPF personnel posted on way to Eid Gah couldn’t stop the procession after seeing thousands of agitated people marching towards the graveyard.
Meanwhile, shops and business establishments at Bagh-e-Mehtab remained closed in protest against the firing of CRPF last night. Hundreds of people came on streets and raised pro-freedom and anti-security forces slogans. The youth at Soura, Batamaloo and Chanapora fought pitched battles with police and paramilitary forces.
Police claimed that shops, business establishments, educational institutions and government offices functioned normally in the Valley.
A police spokesman said that traffic was normally plying on various routes. He said the shops were closed in Nowhatta here due to Chaharum of Javaid Ahmed. He said a minor stone pelting incident was reported in Nowhatta.
Twelve persons were injured, of them two by firing by CRPF personnel on the shopkeepers protesting against the nocturnal raids on their houses and arrest of several youth. Eye witnesses told Greater Kashmir that as the shopkeepers were closing their establishments at KMD bus stand, a CRPF contingent arrived in vehicles and without any provocation fired several rounds injuring two persons. One of the critically wounded has been identified as Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Sofi of Sarnal.
After the incident, people took to streets and shouted pro-freedom and anti-government slogans. The agitated people protested against the nocturnal raids and arrests of youths and other atrocities by troops.
The protesters held a sit-in near the deputy commissioner’s office and demanded immediate release of the youth. They threatened massive agitation if the nocturnal raids on the houses of the protesters were not stopped forthwith.
The people called off their demonstration only after all the youth were released and on the assurance of the deputy commissioner that there would be no further nocturnal raids on the houses of those who had joined pro-freedom protests.
“Earlier during midnight, army along with police barged into the house of 13-year-old Sajjad Ahmad son of Mushtaq Ahmad of Laizbal and dragged him out of his house. The troops thrashed him severely and even as his mother pleaded innocence,” said the locals.
Sajjad’s neighbors made announcements from the Masjid loudspeakers asking people to come out to protest the troops’ atrocities. Within no time, hundreds of people raising pro-freedom slogans came out and started marching towards Lal Chowk where they organized a sit-in till 3:00 A.M in the night till the boy was released.
The residents said police and former government gunmen turned SPOs had prepared a list of youth involved in pro-freedom rallies and were conducting nocturnal raids on their houses and harassing their families.
Meanwhile, police has been reportedly conducting nocturnal raids on the house of Mirwaiz Islamabad, Qazi Yasir who has evaded his arrest so far.
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