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Valley violence escalates, 2 dead

Two protesters were killed and scores received bullet injuries when security forces resorted to firing and shelling tear gas at eight places in Kashmir on Saturday to disperse protesters raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. Peerzada Ashiq reports.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2010 01:25 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Two protesters were killed and scores received bullet injuries when security forces resorted to firing and shelling tear gas at eight places in north and south Kashmir on Saturday to disperse protesters raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

With the death of two youth, the toll has risen to six since Friday and to 23 since June 11, when the killing of a boy sparked off a string of protests across Kashmir.

After Friday's killings, even a curfew and the security restrictions imposed across Kashmir by the authorities failed to keep angry protesters inside.

Anti-India and pro-freedom demonstrations were held in newer areas on Saturday with police sources admitting to Hindustan Times "that the situation was grim and out of control at many places".

A youth, Mudassir Ahmad, received a bullet in the chest when security forces retaliated to a mob attacking a forces' camp at Naidkhah in Bandipora district, 17 km north-east of Srinagar. Eight protesters were injured in the firing. One critically injured was shifted to a Srinagar hospital.

"Ahmad was brought dead to the hospital and received a bullet in his chest," said a medical official at the Sumbal hospital.

"An unruly mob attacked a police camp causing injuries to a number of policemen including SP Bandipora, who suffered head injury," said a policespokesman.

Another boy, identified as Javeed Ahmad Teli, was killed in Baramulla district, 65 km north of Srinagar, when a firearm hit him in the head during protesters-security forces' clashes.

Tension gripped north Kashmir's Kreeri area again on Saturday after two youth died on Friday.

Security forces fired at protesters who took to the streets and marched towards the national highway to protest the killings, defying curfew in the area.

Thirteen protesters, including two women were injured. Two critically injured, Gulshana Jan and Hanifa Jan, were admitted to a Srinagar hospital.

"We received 20 injured persons mostly with bullet wounds," said Kreeri block medical officer Dr Khursheed Ahmad.

The police spokesman said "violent mobs attacked old Police Station and Horticulture buildings, setting them on fire at Kreeri.

"The mob also assaulted a security force Jawan and attempted to snatch his weapon," he added.

Another youth, Tariq Ahmad (17), was critically injured in south Kashmir's Bijbehara area, 65 south of Srinagar. Ahmad was hit by a tear-gas shell aimed to quell a massive protest in the area. One youth in Baramulla, 65 km north of Srinagar, too was brought to Srinagar hospital after a bullet hit him in the head during clashes.

Protesters on Saturday attacked many symbols of state authorities.

A railway station was damaged in north Kashmir's Sopore; two Indian Air Force vehicles in south Kashmir's Pampore area; national highway was blocked with logs near Sangam and felling of trees, police stations attacked at Pampore and Baramulla and a power transmission house was attacked at Wathoora in central Kashmir.

Security forces fired at Pampore, Awantipora, Bijbehara and Tral in south Kashmir and at Sopore, Pattan and Baramulla in north Kashmir to bring spiraling situation under control.

Dozens received bullet injuries in the firing and many critical have been shifted to Srinagar hospitals. In Tral, one boy, Irfan Ahmad Wani, went missing on during Friday protests fuelling more demonstrations today.

"In order to restrain these unruly crowds from causing further damage to the life and property, the police had to fire at different places. Two people were killed in the firing," said the police spokesman in a statement.

The police claimed a lawless crowd attacked a posse of policemen injuring several other policemen at south Kashmir's Kakpora-Samboora area.

"A petrol bomb was also thrown at a police vehicle at Samboora, which was gutted completely," said the spokesman.

The police claimed more than half a dozen police officer and several dozen personnel were injured in protests across the valley.

At the time of filing this report, protests were on at several places. The government has declared indefinite curfew in Kashmir in wake of worsening situation.

"The general public and law abiding citizens are advised to respect curfew restrictions and prevent small minorities in breaking the law," said the official statement.