ARIF SHAFI WANI

 

Srinagar, Oct 10: Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh arrived in the blood soaked Valley on Friday as paramilitary CRPF troopers went on rampage while dispersing peaceful protesters against the visit, killing two youth and injuring at least 30 others in old city here.
 The killings triggered massive demonstrations across the city with people terming the PM’s promise of zero-tolerance on human rights abuse as farce.
 The strike call given against the visit of the PM by the Coordination Committee evoked tremendous response with all the shops, business establishments, government offices and educational institutions shutting down after 1 pm.

 

NOWHATTA MAYHEM
 Soon after the Friday prayers, thousands of people gathered at Nowhatta Chowk and staged peaceful protests. Eyewitness said the situation took an ugly turn when a speeding police Gypsy and an armored vehicle zoomed through the area ‘prompting the people to pelt stones on it.’ Shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the protesters, mostly youth, marched towards Nowhatta Police Station and pelted stones on a large contingent of cops and troopers.
 Police fired bullets and tear smoke shells on the protesters. “The troopers aimed their guns on us and fired indiscriminately towards a graveyard. A boy was fired upon by a trooper from point-blank range on his head. He abruptly fell down and blood started to ooze from his head. He was shifted to hospital in a critical condition,” an eyewitness told Greater Kashmir.
 The boy later identified as Bilal Ahmad Sheikh son of Muhammad Yousuf Sheikh of Hawal succumbed to his injuries at SKIMS.
 After the incident, protesters removed the iron grills and barbed wires near the police station. 
 The troopers fired tear smoke grenades and several rounds in air forcing the protesters to disperse. “The troopers chased the protesters through lanes and fired upon them. But nobody was hurt. After a few minutes, the troopers fired upon a man who was walking near a street at Gojwara. He received a bullet in abdomen,” the locals said.
 He was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. He was identified as Shafat Ahmad Mattu son of Ghulam Mohiuddin Mattu of Malik Sahib Nowhatta. The locals said even after the death of two people, the CRPF in an armored vehicle continued with its onslaught and fired in all directions. Sajad Ahmad Sofi of Naid Kadal was critically injured when troopers opened fire on him at Gojwara. He was being operated upon in hospital when this report was filed.
 The injured in CRPF firing at Nowhatta are Muneer Ahmad, Waseem Wani, Bilal Bhat, Ali Muhammad, Bilal Ahmad and Zeeshan. At least 20 others were wounded in violent clashes at Nowhatta and Gojwara.
 Meanwhile, pall of gloom descended on Nowhatta and Gojwara when the bodies of the youth reached there. Wailing and beating their chest, women gathered around the bodies and showered flower petals and candies on them. Angry youth took to streets and staged anti-India demonstrations at Gojwara till late evening.

 

POLICE SAYS
 However police in its daily bulletin has a different tale to tell: “After the culmination of Friday prayers in Jamia Masjid Nowhatta, several anti-national elements resorted to stone pelting in a bid to ransack Police Station Nowhatta, which was thwarted by police by baton charge and tear smoke shells. In the ensuing clash four civilians, seven policemen and 10 CRPF personnel including an Assistant Commandant were injured. All injured were shifted to various hospitals of Srinagar. Three barricades and a CRPF bunker of Police Station Nowhatta were also damaged in the clashes.”

 

MAISUMA PROTESTS
 After the Friday prayers, hundreds of people assembled at Maisuma Chowk and staged peaceful demonstrations. However, when Muhammad Yaseen Malik and other pro-freedom leaders left the spot, the protesters took out a procession and burnt effigy of Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and shouted slogans against prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. Eyewitnesses said the troopers while asking some youth to disperse, kicked and abused them. This infuriated the protesters and they pelted stones on the troopers. Police fired dozens of tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters. But they offered stiff resistance and engaged the troopers till late in the evening.

 

SIT-IN BY LAWYERS, STUDENTS
 The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association also held a sit-in protest at Lal Chowk against the Prime Minister’s visit to the state.
 Addressing a gathering of lawyers, the Bar president, Mian Qayoom, said, “There is a way to resolve the Kashmir issue and that is the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir.’
 The students of Kashmir University staged protests in the campus. The students boycotted their classes and assembled in front of Sheikh-ul-Alam hostel. Shouting pro-freedom slogans, the students later marched through the campus.Reports of protests were received from many parts of the city, including Habba Kadal.

 

VALLEY-WIDE PROTESTS
 Several people were injured when police used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district.
 Reports said people tried to take a procession at Islamabad. However police fired tear smoke shells to disperse them.
 People staged peaceful demonstrations outside masjids in north Kashmir’s Varmul district. But police fired dozens of tear smoke shells to disperse a massive procession at New Bridge Varmul. Later the protesters engaged the police and troopers in pitched battles in old Varmul.
 Reports said massive protests were held in Bandipore town after Friday prayers. The demonstrators were peacefully proceeding when police used force to disperse them at Gulshan Chowk. The protesters pelted stones on policemen and fought pitched battles throughout the day.
 In Ganderbal district, people assembled outside the central Jamia Masjid Kangan and marched thorough different streets. Chanting pro-freedom slogans, the youth staged a sit-in at Kangan Chowk. The protesters also burnt effigy of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari for his recent comments on Kashmiri militants.
 Later in the evening a police party barged into several houses at Kangan and arrested four persons for taking part in the protests.
 Reports of protests on the call of Coordination Committee were also received from the districts of Kupwara and Pulwama.
(With Khalid Gul, Altaf Baba, Sheikh Nazir, Ayub Javaid, Mudasir Hussain)

 

Former GK employee killed
Shafat Ahmad Mattoo of Nowhatta, who fell to the bullets of CRPF troopers, was a former staffer of Greater Kashmir. Mattoo worked as a cameraman in the printing section of the newspaper for several years. During his stint with this paper, Mattoo worked with dedication and honesty. GK Communications Pvt Ltd condemns in strongest words the killing and condoles Mattoo’s untimely demise and prays for courage to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss.

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