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Two killed in protests as Kashmir flares up (Roundup)

Srinagar, June 28 (Calcutta Tube) Two youth, including a 15-year-old, were killed in the Kashmir Valley Monday as thousands of protestors came out on the streets and clashed with security forces, who prevented them from reaching Sopore to attend the funeral of two men killed last week, police said.

Violence erupted in summer capital Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore towns as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police thwarted attempts by mobs of young men, numbering from hundreds to thousands, from proceeding to Sopore for the funeral of the two youth who were killed in paramilitary firing Friday.

On Monday afternoon, Tauqeer Ahmed Rather, 15, was killed at Delina locality outside Baramulla town when a mob proceeding towards Sopore was intercepted by security forces, police said.

The security personnel opened fire as the mob started throwing rocks and stones at them. Rather succumbed to a bullet injury while being taken to Baramulla hospital, a police official said.

Sopore is 14 km from Baramulla.

Earlier in the day, another youth was killed in firing as an agitated mob flouted curfew restrictions in north Kashmir’s Sopore town.

A senior police officer said the victim was identified as Tajamul Ahmad Bhat, son of Bashir Ahmad Bhat of Wadoora in Sopore.

Bhat succumbed to a bullet injury at Sopore hospital, sources said.

In Srinagar, around 10,000 protesters heeded a call by moderate Hurriyat group leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq for a march to Sopore to join the funeral of the killed youth.

The march started towards the north Kashmir town from different parts of the Old City areas of Srinagar Monday morning.

As the protesters reached Omarabad colony on the outskirts of the city on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, 12 km from city centre Lal Chowk, security forces intercepted the procession with barricades, baton charges, tear gas shells and firing in the air.

Ten people were injured, according to eye witnesses. Of them, two suffered critical injuries and were taken to a hospital for treatment.

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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Spontaneous shutdowns and mobs of young men stone-pelting and attacking security forces have paralised normal life in Kashmir.

The situation is aggravated by accusations of human rights violations by the security personnel.

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