SRINAGAR: Kashmir observed a complete shutdown on Wednesday to mourn the killing of three civilians and a militant by government forces during a gunfight in Central Kashmir’s Chadoora area on Tuesday, even as youth clashed with forces at different places across the Valley. Meanwhile, thousands of people attended the funeral prayers of slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Tausseef Ahmed Wagay at Yaripora in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, even as senior resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Khan and many others continued to remain under house arrest or “in preventive custody.”
Reports said normal life remained crippled across Kashmir even as roads wore a deserted look in the summer capital. The commercial hub Lal Chowk remained shut while only private vehicles could be seen plying. All commercial establishments, schools, colleges and private institutions remained closed on the strike call given by the joint resistance leadership—Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik—against the Chadoora killings.
Reports from old Srinagar said forces were deployed in strength on roads, lanes and by-lanes. However, during evening hours, youth took to streets and fought pitched battles with forces in many old city areas that included Saraf Kadal, Kawdara, Qamarwari, Eidgah, Zampa Kadal, Chotta Bazar and other adjoining areas.
Reports of clashes poured in from Rawalpora area of Srinagar outskirts where a youth identified as Abrar Ahmed was hit by pellets in head. The area, according to locals, witnessed intense clashes between forces as one of the slain youths Ishaq Ahmed Wani hailed from Rangreth. Clashes were on in the area till late evening.
Reports said mild clashes broke out between youth and forces personnel at Chadoora town in central Kashmir amid complete shutdown.
Reports said the youth tried to march towards police station Chadoora and attack it with bricks and stones. However, they were stopped by the forces who fired dozens of tear gas shells to push back the protestors. “One youth received a tear gas shell in his right hand and was shifted to SDH Chadoora,” witnesses said. They said five other youth sustained injuries in the clashes.
Reports said complete shutdown was observed in Chadoora, Nagam, Budgam, Beerwah, Aripanthan, Khag and Khansahab towns of Budgam district.
Hundreds of people visited the families of two slain youth in Chadoora to express solidarity with them. Earlier, heavy contingents of forces were deployed at various key points in Chadoora to deal with protests. Reports of complete shutdown were received from Ganderbal district also.
Reports said the body of slain Hizbul Mujahideen Tauseef Ahmed Wagay, who was killed in Chadoora gunfight on Tuesday, reached his native village Kanjikul, Yaripora, Kugalm, late last night and people in huge numbers thronged his residence to have his last glimpse. Reports said as the dawn set in, people from villages and towns of south Kashmir travelling on foot, riding motor bikes and cars converged at the compound of a Jamia Masjid at Kanjikul. They were raising pro-freedom, anti-India and pro-militant slogans. Five rounds of funeral prayers were held for the slain militant to accommodate huge crowd which had assembled there. Jamati-I-Islami district president for Kulgam, Muhammad Yousuf led his first funeral prayers while Tauseef’s elder brother Irshad led the last. Irshad also addressed the mourners.
“I pray that Allah accepts his martyrdom and if at all he has ever hurt you, I seek forgiveness on his behalf,” he told the mourners as all eyes around turned moist.
Several Hurriyat leaders addressed the gathering while veteran pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Geelani addressed the mourners telephonically.
Women in huge numbers participated in the funeral procession. They were seen showering candies and petals on the coffin of Tauseef that was wrapped in a green flag. Tauseef was later laid to rest at martyrs’ graveyard at Kanjikulah.
CLASHES IN YARIPORA
Amid complete shutdown in Kulgam district, clashes erupted at Yaripora after Tauseef was laid to rest. Reports said youth in large numbers marched towards police station Yaripora and attacked it with stones and bricks. Police and paramilitary forces swung into action and lobbed teargas shells and chilly gas to disperse the angry protesters, they said.
Youth did not relent and continued to engage the forces in pitched battles. Clashes were on when this report was filed. There were reports of injuries to several people.
Amid complete shutdown, incidents of stone pelting were reported in old town and Palhallan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. In old town Baramulla, as soon as police this morning appeared in the area, scores of youths amid pro-freedom slogans attacked them with stones. Police lobbed scores of teargas shells to disperse the agitating youths and clashes continued for some time in the area. Clashes were also reported from Palhallan area of Baramulla district. Scores of youths while trying to march towards main highway were intercepted by the police, triggering clashes between agitating youths and the cops. These clashes continued for some time.
Meanwhile, reports of a complete shutdown also poured in from Sopore area of Baramulla district. Scores of youth assembled at Markazi Jamia Masjid and Main Chowk Sopore amid pro-freedom slogans.
Reports said groups of youth tried to take out a protest march amid pro-freedom slogans, but were stopped by government forces who were deployed in strength at main bazaar and main chowk. As the forces barred the youth to take out a protest march, youth resorted to intense stone pelting which spilled over to other areas, including main bazar, main chowk, Shah Dargah chowk and Batpora.
The clashes were on till late evening.
Meanwhile, unknown persons set ablaze BJP General Secretary Reyaz Ahmed Mir’s personal vehicle bearing number JK05D-6940 at Sopore. The incident happened late on Tuesday evening, reports said.
Reports from Bandipora district said that funeral prayers in absentia for the slain youth were held in Ajas village.
Reports said scores of people gathered in the lawns of central Jamia Masjid Ajas after Zuhr prayers to offer funeral prayers in-absentia for the youth slain in Chadoora. Later, they held a peaceful protest rally in main chowk Ajas, carrying placards denouncing the civilian killings.
Meanwhile, youth in Saderkoot Bala area blocked Bandipora-Srinagar road to protest the killings. GK