Kashmir on boil: 4th civilian death in 24 hours

Srinagar: Massive protests erupted in Tengpora Bypass in Batamaloo area here after the body of a local teenager was fished out from the Gangbugh Nalla around 11:45 PM on Monday night. Locals said 17-year-old Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat son of Ghulam Mohammad Bhat of Tengpora was beaten to death by CRPF troops around 8:30 p.m and then thrown into the stream.

Eyewitnesses told Agence India Press that CRPF opened fire in Batmaloo locality on a group of protesters agitating against the killing of another youth the previous night. They said the youth, Muzaffar Ahmad, was fleeing to evade arrest by CRPF last night when he slipped into a stream and drowned.

Just hours after locals in Tengpora area of Srinagar city claimed that 17-year-old Muzzaffar Ahmad Bhat was beaten to death and then thrown in to a stream in the area by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), another teenager Fayaz Ahmad was killed Tuesday morning when CRPF fired at people participating in the funeral prayers of Muzzaffar.

Large number of people gathered near Muzaffar’s residence this morning to mourn his death. Upon seeing a contingent of CRPF approaching they began chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

Some of the youngmen began pelting them with stones, they said. CRPF forces opened fire killing Fayaz Ahmad Wani, father of a two year old baby. Fayaz was hit by a bullet in the neck resulting in his on the spot death.

A top police officer told Agence India Press that one stone hit CRPF personnel and then CRPF personnel open fire on them, but CRPF has denied this.

Muzaffar Bhat’s family and locals in the area said he had jumped into the stream Monday when as paramilitary Central Reserve Police Forces personnel were chasing a group of demonstrators protesting against the visit of Minister of State for Housing Nasir Aslam Wani to the area.

Fearing the march may ignite more violent protests; security forces used canes and tear smoke to stop the procession. They took away the two bodies for an autopsy in a police hospital.

The bodies were later handed over to their families and asked to bury them in a local graveyard in Batamaloo.

CRPF personnel baton charged some media persons, injuring eight of them and they were taken to a hospital.

Journalists covering the procession in Batamaloo alleged that security forces beat them while they were discharging professional duties.

Banks, offices and businesses establishments also closed down as the news about the latest death spread like wildfire in the entire city.

As the news of Bhat’s killing spread, separatist activists in Srinagar used public address systems of mosques asking people to join the protest.

“Our protests and civil disobedience will continue until India withdraws its military and paramilitary soldiers from all populated areas,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a key separatist leader who was leading thousands of marchers in downtown Srinagar.

Carrying black and green flags, the protesters chanted “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom” as they marched through the streets.

Meanwhile, police resorted to teargas shelling and aerial firing to disperse the protest march led by the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Tuesday here.

Witnesses said, as soon as the procession reached near Khayam in Srinagar a huge contingent of police and CRPF fired tear smoke canisters and aerial shots to disperse the protesters.

The close aide of Mirwaiz, Shahid-ul-Islam, said that today’s procession was a part of the “Civil Disobedience” campaign announced by the conglomerate.

“Mirwaiz along with his supporters will stage a protest at Hawal and Alamgari Bazar tomorrow, and after that he will move towards district headquarters,” Shahid added.

Separatists had called upon students to stage protest demonstrations in their educational institutions. In view of the situation, authorities announced closure of schools and educational institutions in the city today.

The latest deaths led to fresh tension in Srinagar that has been under strict curfew after a fresh wave of violent protests rocked the Kashmir Valley.

According to an order issued by District Magistrate, Srinagar, curfew has been imposed in district Srinagar from 4 p.m today here till further orders.

This decision has been taken as a precautionary measure and in view of the apprehension of breach of peace and tranquility and damage to life and property.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar has been directed to implement curfew in letter and spirit.

The situation in the Kashmir Valley deteriorated further, as a woman and another person were killed in Srinagar today. With this, the death toll in the valley has gone up to four in the last 24 hours.

The woman died in Batmaloo locality in Srinagar, when a stray bullet hit her. The security personnel fired in air to disperse the violent mob, but it accidentally hit the 25-year-old woman.

Unfortunately, she was not part of the protest and was watching the incident from the window of her home. Another person was killed when the security forces opened fire at a violent mob in Maisuma.

Eyewitnesses said, the CRPF fired “without any provocation” killing a girl which is identified as Fancy on the spot. With Fancy’s killing the death toll in CRPF action in Batmaloo area since Monday has mounted to three.

According to them Fancy Jan police shot at Fancy Jan when she was watching protests in the area through the window of her room.

The eye witnesses say that Fancy received a bullet in her heart resulting in her on spot death.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police issued a statement on the woman’s death saying, “While dealing with very heavy pelting by protesters at Lachmanpora, Batmaloo, security forces fired in the air. A stray bullet hit a girl who was watching from the window of her house. She was taken to hospital where she was declared brought dead.

Also violent clashes broke out between police and mourners on Tuesday at Maisuma here when police resorted to aerial firing to disperse the funeral procession of the two Batmaloo youth killed in CPRF action.

Just hours after Batmaloo area of Srinagar city in worst condition, another youth 24-year-old Abrar Khan has been killed in police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Maisuma area, in the summer capital of state.

The police and Central Reserve Police Force shot dead 24-year-old Abrar Khan in Maisuma in Srinagar on Tuesday evening. The incident took place after protesters clashed with the police in the area. One more youth Owais Hamid has been critically injured in the firing.

Eyewitnesses told Agence India Press that troopers fired upon the protesters near Maisuma, which resulted Abrar Khan’s death.

Police and CRPF tried to disperse protesters by lobbing tear gas canisters and later opened indiscriminate fire on the protesters, killing 24-year-old Abrar Khan on the spot and another youth Owais Hamid injured, as his condition is serious, they said.

“Abrar Khan Son of Ghulam Nabi Khan of Maisuma was brought to the hospital, but had succumbed to injuries on the way,” said hospital administration.

He had received a bullet injury in his neck, they said.

Owais son of Abdul Hamid also hails from Maisuma and has received a fire army injury on the left side of his chest.

“We will refer him to the SK Institute of Medical Sciences Soura as his condition is critical,” he added.

Meanwhile Police used force to quell a protest demonstration in civil lines here on Tuesday.

Scores of people raising pro-freedom slogans took out a massive procession from Chanapora towards Lal Chowk. However, a huge contingent of Police and CRPF men intercepted them near Rambagh Bridge and fired tear smoke canisters to disperse them.

Angry protesters stopped the Ambassador vehicle near Rambagh Bridge in civil lines and asked its driver to come out. Before police could reach, protesters burnt the vehicle, police said.

After days of calm, fresh violence erupted in Srinagar leaving four persons dead following which indefinite curfew was clamped in the city.

Angry protesters barged into the house of the National Conference MLA from Batmaloo, Irfan Shah, at Batmaloo on Tuesday evening and set it on fire.

However, police and CRPF men resorted to teargas shelling and fired aerial shots to disperse them.

“Fire has been put off and situation is under control,” a police officer said.

Meanwhile, University of Kashmir postponed all of the examinations scheduled to be held up to July 12, 2010, a Kashmir University spokesman said in a statement.

He said that revised date sheet for the conduct of these examinations would be notified separately.

Ironically, the fresh violence erupted on a day when Omar Abdullah tried to reach out to his people as part of his political intervention to deal with the crisis. He was in Anantnag, in south Kashmir, which saw some of the worst violence last week.

But as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has himself conceded, the real failure in the Valley has been the failure of political dialogue and it is a vacuum that New Delhi needs to fill.

The latest deaths led to fresh tension in Srinagar that has been under strict curfew after a fresh wave of violent protests rocked the Kashmir Valley last month.

Eleven people, mostly teenagers, have been killed in firing by security forces since June 11 when a 17-year-old student, Tufail Mattoo, died after being hit by a police teargas shell.

by Sheikh Imran Bashir

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