Curfew in Srinagar after fresh violence, 3 killed

Curfew in Srinagar after fresh violence, 3 killed

A security person walks near a barbed wire barricade in curfew-bound Srinagar on Monday. PTI Photo

One person identified as Fayaz Ahmad Wani was killed when security personnel allegedly opened fire at a stone- pelting mob protesting the death of a man after falling into a drain during a demonstration in Batmaloo area of the city.

A 25-year-old woman identified as Fancy was killed by a stray bullet in the same area when security forces fired in air to disperse a mob which went on a rampage and attacked a police building after torching a welfare centre in that premises, police said.

Indefinite curfew has been clamped in the city after the latest spell of violence, police said. Defying curfew restrictions, protesters clashed with security forces in Maisuma area in Srinagar, prompting them to open fire on them.

Abrar Khan, 18 was killed allegedly in the firing while another youth identified as Owais was seriously injured. Besides Srinagar, violence also took place in Baramulla, Pampore in Pulwama and parts of curfew-bound Anantnag leaving 25 injured including an assistant sub-inspector who was hit by a stone on his head at Mattan chowk in Anantnag.

Police said the mobs also pelted stones on police stations at Pattan and Pampore. The policemen fired in air to scare away the protestors. As authorities rushed reinforcements to strictly enforce curfew in Srinagar, protesters clashed with security forces in various places including Khanyar, Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal, Barzulla, Fateh Kadal, Braripora, Tatoo Ground, Hyderpora, Baghat, Rambagh, Jehangir Chowk, Maisuma, and Habbakadal, resulting in injuries to 45 people.

The protests had begun in the area late last night when a group of men started throwing stones at a security contingent. The protesters were chased by security personnel and one of them identified as Muzaffar Ahmad fell in the drain. His body was later fished out.

The death triggered a fresh round of protests this morning with a mob hurling stones at CRPF and local police present in the area. The security personnel opened fire after lobbing tear gas shells when they were surrounded by protesters from all sides, leading to the death of Wani, a police spokesman said. He hailed from Gangbug in the city. Later a mob attacked the police quarters.

During the protests, "security forces fired in air. A stray bullet hit a woman who was watching from the window of her house, resulting in her death," the spokesman said. Earlier, authorities had announced closure of schools and educational institutions in the city following the protests. Kashmir has witnessed violent protests and curfew following the killing of youths allegedly in firing by security forces last month.

Protesters set ablaze a government vehicle at Gogjibagh in uptown Srinagar and damaged over three dozen vehicles at a number of places including Srinagar-airport road. The protesters, who blocked the airport road at Hyderpora Chowk for several hours, also pelted stones on the passing vehicle of a senior CRPF officer but the personnel exercised restrain, police sources said.

Opposition Peoples Democratic Party condemned the killings and alleged that the government was only "fuelling anger" of the people by its actions. In a statement, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti claimed that the government had run out of options and had decided to "steamroll the sentiments of people".

Chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq staged a 'dharna' at Rajourikadal in downtown Srinagar, which houses the headquarters of his Awami Action Committee. Later, Mirwaiz led a march around various areas of downtown Srinagar, the sources said adding that authorities put him back under house arrest after he returned to his Nigeen residence.

Addressing the protesters, the separatist leader said the agitation will continue till security forces are withdrawn from populated areas of Kashmir Valley.

Condemning the killings, chief of Congress' state unit Saifuddin Soz called for immediate steps to check such incidents. "It is high time that the administration takes more effective measures to avoid such killings at all costs," he said. State secretary of CPI(M) M Y Tarigami described the incidents as shocking.

Meanwhile, official sources said that 20-year-old Owais Ahmad alias "Mandaila", who was injured allegedly in firing by security forces in Maisuma in the heart of the city this evening, was arrested by police under Public Safety Act (PSA) in February this year for involvement in protests and stone-pelting. His arrest had sparked violent protests in the city and he was released after the state High Court quashed his detention.

He was rushed to SMHS hospital after being hit by a bullet and his condition was stated to be critical. Another youth identified as Pervaiz Ahmad Bhat was brought from Magermal bagh locality to SMHS hospital with a bullet injury in his leg. Police resorted to firing to disperse several thousand mourners carrying the body Fancy who was killed in Batmaloo locality, after teargas shelling and baton charge proved ineffective.

The protesters were marching towards Lal Chowk when they were stopped by police at Magermal bagh leading to clashes between the two sides, the sources said adding some of the protestors set ablaze a nearby barrack of Indian Reserve Police (IRP) besides damaging the window panes of the house of National Conference MLA Irfan Shah.

Some ammunition stored in the barrack was destroyed in the fire. Some of the protesters breached the police cordon and reached Amirakadal bridge. However, police fired warning shots and chased them away.

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