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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Kashmir teeters between turmoil and normalcy

HT Correspondent  Srinagar, March 09, 2013
First Published: 20:30 IST(9/3/2013) | Last Updated: 20:32 IST(9/3/2013)

After five days of strict government clampdown in Kashmir, people struggled to resume their normal life on Saturday even as there was no curfew or any call of strike by separatists.

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The Valley teetered between normalcy and upheaval as businesses opened in summer capital Srinagar, while shutdown and protests persisted in some towns of north and south Kashmir.

Shops, offices, business establishments and banks opened on Saturday after five days as authorities lifted curfew imposed in most parts of Kashmir.

Eyewitnesses said that Baramulla and Bandipora districts in north were shut while south Kashmir witnessed a partial disruption of life.

They said nearly a dozen youth were injured in Baramulla town when the police resorted to pellets and teargas against angry demonstrators protesting against presence of the army camps in the area. 

Normal life has been disrupted in the Valley for nearly a month since the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in Delhi's Tihar jail. The latest provocation was the killing of a young man of Baramula, Tahir Ahmed Sofi, in army firing on Tuesday, enraging the common people.

Since the day, nearly 200 people have been injured in clashes between the protesters and the police and paramilitaries.

On Saturday, a police spokesman said shopkeepers in Baramulla's Sopore town were forced to shut after protesters threw rocks at them. The spokesman claimed that a pregnant lady and a two-year-old child were injured in stone throwing. However the incident could not be verified independently.

Residents of the town said that a group of women also protested in the area accusing police of mid-night raids to arrest youth. Police used force to disperse the protesting mothers. Police said that they have arrested four stone throwers in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.

The police official said nine security forces personnel including six from police (an SHO among them) and three from CRPF were injured in the latest clashes. Two middle aged persons, one from Sopore and another from Srinagar, were injured in separate incidents after becoming target of stone throwers, the official said.

The police spokesman came out with a detailed list of their injured while maintaining law and order in the past one month.

"Nearly 36 police and CRPF men including a Superintendent of police, a deputy SP and an Assistant Commandant of CRPF have been injured in different stone pelting incidents in district Srinagar," he said.

"Besides an inspector, four sub-inspectors, three assistant sub inspectors, two head constables, 23 constables of police and CRPF were injured at different places while tackling law and order situation," the spokesman stated.        

Slowly limping back to normalcy after Guru's execution, the state government has been in a fix to calm tempers after the latest killing by army.

The chief minister Omar Abdullah recently broke down in the assembly saying he had no explanation for the killing. 

On the other hand, a joint council of separatists - actually formed to chalk out a strategy of protests to demand the return of mortal remains of Guru - have said they will be issuing a new protest programme on Sunday.

60 hurt in fresh violence

About 60 people were injured as fresh violence erupted in parts of north Kashmir as authorities lifted restrictions on Saturday. Security forces burst teargas shells and also resorted to repeated lathicharge to disperse demonstrators, pelting stones at several places in Baramulla town. When Security forces deployed on two the bridges, connecting the old town with civil lines, tried to stop them, they began pelting stones. After lathicharge had no impact, security forces burst teargas shells to disperse them.

Stone pelters force shops to shut

Demonstrations were reported at Pattan on the highway. About 20 people, including some security personnel were injured in these clashes. A police spokesman said when shopkeepers reopened their establishments in the apple township of Sopore, some people started pelting stones, forcing them to shut their shops.

Stone pelting on passing vehicles were reported from Seelu, Aseer, Muslimpeer, Chankhan, Amargarh, Sangrama and Ranji. Two dozen private vehicles were damaged in stone pelting, he said adding many civilians including a pregnant woman of Kupwara and a two-year-old child were injured. At Maisuma, shopkeepers opened this time after remaining closed for about a week.

However, the shopkeepers had not displayed their goods and remained ready to down shutters in case of any trouble.


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