Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir (India)
Eid festivities were marred in three major towns of strife-torn Kashmir Valley as clashes broke out between protesting youth and security forces in Sopore, Anantanag and parts of Srinagar soon after the Eid congregational prayers concluded this morning.
At least 15 people were injured in violent clashes. People, most of them youth thronged streets raised slogans “We want freedom,” as security forces’ used batons to disperse them. Reports said that angry youth pelted stones on the forces triggering clashes. Security forces also burst numerous smoke shells to disperse the protestors. But they again re-grouped and clashed.
Fearing the outbreak of clashes on eve of Eid, the government had already deployed forces in strength across Kashmir valley. It had also put under house arrest most of the separatist leaders to prevent them from leading the protests.
To prevent protests, police have launched a drive against bikers and seized hundreds of two-wheelers in past few days. The police claimed that the bikes were seized due to security threat posed by the youth.
Pertinently hundreds of youth while riding on bikes pelted stones on Nowhatta police station on the night of August 27. About 73 youths were arrested and 10 motorbikes seized in connection with the attack.
When reports last came in the clashes were going on in parts of city, Cheeni Chowk, Lal Chowk, Kadipora, Mattan chowk and adjoining areas.
It may b recalled here that the state government on August 28 had announced withdrawal of ‘all cases and charges’ against youth involved in at least 1200 cases of stone-pelting in Kashmir “as a goodwill gesture to give them a chance to behave as responsible citizens.” He charged separatist leaders with “using the youth for the 2010 agitation and later forgetting them and their future.
According to the government, at least 92 government and private buildings were set ablaze while as 56 buildings were damaged in 2010 unrest. Around 62 government and private vehicles were set ablaze while as 160 vehicles were also damaged in the unrest. Over 115 people were killed in security forces’ firing last summer.
Amin Masoodi is a journalist based in Srinagar, Indian administered (Jammu and Kashmir)