After seven days of consistent news of deaths and violence, the Kashmir Valley on Friday witnessed less-violent protests amid rains and strict imposition of curfew. One youth was, however, critically injured in security forces’ action in north Kashmir.
Fearing protests after Friday prayers, many roadside mosques and shrines in old Srinagar were not allowed to perform prayers. Prayers at the central mosque of Jamia Masjid were also not allowed for the seventh week on Friday.
“This is most condemnable act. Stopping people from religious duties amounts to interference in religious affairs,” said a spokesman of moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The paramilitary’s Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel also marched on Srinagar streets for the first time on Friday to keep protesters at bay. The first RAF flag march was held at Srinagar’s Dalgate area. Two companies, 200 personnel, of the RAF have been airlifted to Kashmir on the request of the state government.
Despite strict curfew, there were reports of protests in north and south Kashmir. Police fired in the air and hurled smoke-shells in several areas of Srinagar and Budgam to quell protesters.
Five protesters were injured in Sopore’s Warpora area, 55 km north of Srinagar, when security forces fired firearms and lobbed smoke-shells to disperse a demonstration. One critically wounded has been shifted to a Srinagar hospital.
A government spokesman said barring few violations of curfew and stray stone pelting incidents, the situation in the Kashmir valley remained peaceful on Friday.
The spokesman said “miscreants also set ablaze the school building of Girls Middle School in Baramulla’s Kreeri area and the panchayat ghar at Baghat Kanipora in Srinagar’s Nowgam area”.
He said an unruly mob attacked a police post at Warpora in Sopore. “The police and the security forces used baton and tear-smoke grenades to disperse the unruly mob, who was hell bent to ransacking the police post. The mob did not relent and the security forces were forced to fire, in which one person Rameez Reshi was injured.” Reshi, who received bullet injury, was referred to Srinagar’s SKIMS hospital for treatment.
A peaceful protest was also held at Srinagar’s Hyderpora area led by hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. In reaction to Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s statement in the Parliament welcoming change in stand by Geelani, the aging and ailing separatist leader said: “I have not changed by basic stand. I still demand India to accept Kashmir as a dispute. I ask people to avoid stone-pelting because it gives excuse to occupational troops to kill people.”