Two dead as mobs run amok in Sopore, Baramulla, Srinagar (Intro Roundup)

Srinagar, June 28 (Calcutta Tube) Two persons were killed and more than three dozen protesters and security men injured in widespread violence in Srinagar and north Kashmir Baramulla districts Monday. The trouble erupted as thousands of protestors were prevented from reaching Sopore to attend the funeral of two men killed last week, police said.

One protester, identified as Tajamul Ahmad Bhat of Wadoora (Sopore) was killed and six other protesters were injured when an angry mob defied curfew in north Kashmir’s Sopore town Monday morning.

Police said Bhat, who had sustained a bullet injury, succumbed to his injuries before reaching the hospital.

In another such incident, police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel intercepted a violent procession marching towards the Sopore town at Delina village, 50 kilometres from here in Baramulla district, Monday morning.

‘Tauqeer Ahmad Rather, 15, sustained fatal injuries when security forces fired to quell the violence at Delina in which protesters were throwing rocks and stones at the security men. Rather later succumbed to injuries’, a senior police officer said here.

Another protester identified as Bilal Ahmad Wani, 22 had been killed when protesters defied curfew in Sopore town late yesterday evening.

Separatists had called for a march to Sopore town today to join the fourth day funeral prayers of two youth, Firdous Ahmad Kakroo and Shakeel Ahmad Ganai who were killed in Sopore last Friday when a violent mob attacked and torched a CRPF vehicle in the town.

The CRPF said its troopers had opened fire in self-defence.

A huge procession of people had started from old city Srinagar areas today morning towards the Sopore town in response to the separatist call.

Twenty people, including protesters and security men, were injured when the procession was intercepted at Omarabad colony, 12 km from city centre Lal Chowk on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

Protests and clashes also took place at other places in the old city areas of Srinagar.

Protesters demolished some CRPF bunkers on the procession route.

Tension gripped the old city areas as announcements were made from the mosques there asking the people to squat on the roads as a mark of protest against the excesses by the security forces.

Although the march was stopped, the situation remained highly volatile and tense as many people continued to offer resistance to the security forces.

No restrictions were imposed in Srinagar but there was heavy deployment of police and CRPF.

Markets, business establishments, schools and colleges remained shut here, though no separatist group had called for a shutdown.

The authorities had declared that schools and colleges in the valley will remain shut for two days – Monday and Tuesday.

As a precautionary measure, several hardline and moderate leaders were detained to stop them from congregating at Sopore.

Mirwaiz Farooq was placed under house arrest in his uptown Nigeen residence where pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yaseen Malik was also detained, an official source said.

Senior Shia leader Aga Syed Hassan was also detained in his house in Central Badgam district.

The deteriorating law and order situation in the state forced Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to cancel his visit to Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh, where Congress president Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for a mega tunnel.

‘The chief minister has decided to stay put in the state as the situation in the Kashmir Valley is far from satisfactory,’ an official told IANS.

Meanwhile, to deal with the volatile law and order situation in Sopore district, the government Monday appointed Pankaj Saxena as special inspector general of police (Baramulla) and M. Syed Khan as special commissioner (Baramulla).

Both the officials have been ordered to join their new postings forthwith without availing any joining time.

In a serious development Sunday, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar had said that the CRPF troopers were not observing restraint while dealing with the law and order situation.

Sagar also asked the union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to visit Kashmir so that the CRPF troopers were instructed to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Chief Minister Abdullah is also reported to have spoken to Chidambaram on phone to convey his apprehensions about the CRPF handling of the situation.

Reacting to these reports, the director general of the CRPF told media channels in Delhi that the CRPF was in Jammu and Kashmir to assist the local administration and the police and did not act on its own while handling law and order situations during deployments on duty.

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