Violent clashes between protestors and security forces in Kashmir continued on Saturday, with two more people dying in firing.
The police, however, confirmed only one death till late Saturday night.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was in a meeting with senior security and intelligence officers at the time of going to press, announced earlier on Saturday that his government would recruit 50,000 youngsters in the next few months, and pitched for restoration of autonomy to the state to bridge the “trust deficit” between the people and the Centre.
But such announcements, both by the Centre and state, have had little effect on the volatile situation in the valley.
With Saturday’s deaths, the number of people killed in Kashmir since June 11, mostly in firing by forces, has risen to 57.
Security forces opened fire at a mob in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town, 65 km south of Srinagar, killing Irshad Ahmed Latoo. Three others were injured, one of them critically.
In Narbal town, 20 km north of Srinagar, CRPF personnel opened fire on a group of youngsters shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans,residents said. Umar Ahmad (16), who was reportedly hit by a bullet, died on the spot. But the police have not confirmed the death.
Those injured on Saturday included a five-year-old girl struck by a stone, and several security personnel.
“A five-year-old girl was hit by a stone when she was travelling in a Sumo from Kulgam to Srinagar for a medical check-up,” said the police. “She received injuries in her eye and was shifted to hospital for treatment.”
There was a major stand-off between protesters and security forces in Srinagar’s historic Hazratbal shrine in the afternoon when worshippers were allegedly stopped from praying inside the shrine.
“Never before have devotees been barred from entering the shrine during Ramzan,” said Ali Muhammad, a senior citizen living near the shrine, adding this prevented people from carrying out their “religious duties”.
A police spokesperson said security forces were forced to resort to cane-charge to disperse a group of youngsters who targeted police barracks and vehicles at the shrine. “One deputy superintendent of police and three other policemen were injured,” he said.