The uneasy calm of the past week in Kashmir was shattered on the first Friday of Ramzan when four persons, including a Class 10 student, were killed in firing by security forces in north Kashmir’s Pattan, Kupwara and Sopore.
Two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for peace in the Valley and set up a panel to suggest means of increasing employment prospects, security forces claimed they were forced to open fire after protesters attacked a camp of the CRPF’s 92 battalion at Bomai in Sopore, 55 km north of Srinagar. Two persons were killed.
Bomai resident Shafkat Ahmad, however, said: “There was a peaceful demonstration after Friday prayers. The protesters were fired at without any provocation when they approached a CRPF picket.”
The firing, provoked or not, killed Arif Mir and Sameer Lone, both residents of Bomai. Four persons were injured.
"Later, the funeral procession for the two persons killed was fired at too,” Shafkat added.
In Kupwara, 120 km north of Srinagar, dozens of people coming out of a mosque after prayers at 5.30 am reportedly got into an argument with security forces. How and why the argument ended in bloodshed is contested, but security forces shot at the crowd, killing Mudasir Ahmad Zargar, a Class 10 student.
Hundreds of protesters — raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans — later came on to the streets to protest Zargar’s death, defying security restrictions. A curfew was immediately imposed in the district.
Protests after morning prayers also broke out in Pattan. A curfew was imposed. To enforce curfew and control mobs, security forces fired at demonstrators. Ali Muhammad Khanday, who was critically injured, was taken to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences hospital, where he died.
Forces fired at several places in downtown Srinagar to control protests and stone-throwing mobs. Three people were injured in the city’s Nowhatta area in firing by security forces.
“Security forces had to fire when mobs did not pay any heed to repeated calls for dispersal at several places, including Bomai. Thirty police and CRPF personnel were injured,” a police spokesperson said.
With Friday’s deaths, the civilian death toll has reached 55 since June 11.