It was the Kashmir Valley’s most sanguinary Sunday of the year, with nine people being killed — three in firing by security forces and six in a blast at a police camp — even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah desperately appealed for calm.
“I know young people are angry ... they see no hope. I want to lead them... but only if my government gets a chance to work,” he said in an address broadcast on Doordarshan's Kasheer channel.
Nayeem Ahmad (20) and Rais Ahmad (18) were killed after security forces opened fire on violent protesters who had defied curfew and assembled in Pampore town, known for its saffron, 15 km from Srinagar. They blocked the national highway and attacked policemen, sparking retaliation. At Khrew, 10 km from Srinagar, a 17-year-old girl, Afroza, died when police fired on another violent crowd.
Soon after, again at Khrew, an angry mob surrounded a police camp and set it on fire. Some explosive material, as well as a gas cylinder kept at the camp, then exploded, killing six persons and injuring 35. Only two of the dead have so far been identified — as Javed Ahmed and Mohammed Amin.
Pulwama deputy commissioner Mohammed Afzal confirmed the deaths of Nayeem and Rais Ahmed. “Someone in the mob brandished a pistol, prompting the security forces to fire,” he said.
“Afroza succumbed to her injuries in hospital,” a doctor at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science in Srinagar said.
In all, 32 people have been killed since the current cycle of violence by angry protesters and security forces began on June 11, when Tufail Ahmed Matoo (17) died after being hit by a teargas shell on the chest. Fourteen have been killed since Friday.