TWO more civilians were killed in fresh violence across Kashmir on Saturday, taking the death toll of protesters since July 8 to 77. Over 60 people were injured in the protests, which continue amid government plans to deploy the Army in South Kashmir.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is in Jammu, expressed concern at the death in Shopian district. “I don’t know what to say, I am slightly upset because as I was leaving for this place, my secretary told me that in Shopian, yet again a boy, who was pelting stones, has died. So I am slightly upset today,” she said at a function.
The Shopian youth died after police and paramilitary forces raided Tukroo village, where people were planning a “freedom” rally. Sayar Ahmad Sheikh, a 26-year-old resident of Ganapora village of Shopian, was hit by a teargas shell on the head and was declared brought dead at the hospital.
Villagers claimed that as they were moving towards Tukroo to attend the rally, police fired pellets and teargas shells indiscriminately. More than 40 protesters were hit by pellets. “We received 37 injured people at different hospitals of the district,” a senior health official told The Sunday Express. “All of them had pellet injuries.”
In its official release, police said they reacted as protesters were throwing stones at them. “About 500 miscreants pelted stones on police and security force deployments at Tukroo. Police used lathicharge and fired teargas shells to disperse the violent mob,” the release said.
Most of the injuries were caused on Saturday in similar attempts to foil marches and protests, as the situation in the Valley continued to be tense for the 64th consecutive day. Separatists have extended the shutdown programme till September 16.
Barely an hour after the incident in Shopian, a civilian was killed at Botengoo village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Eyewitnesses said police and paramilitary forces were removing barricades set up by people on the roads at the time. Villagers claimed Yawar Mushtaq, 25, who was hit by pellets in his abdomen and chest, was sitting some distance from the spot.
Police, however, said Mushtaq was throwing stones at them. “While dealing with the situation, police used lathicharge and fired teargas shells, but the miscreants did not yield,” a release said, adding Mushtaq was injured in the process.
Later, the security forces allegedly fired teargas shells and pellets at villagers preparing for Mushtaq’s funeral. A high school went up in flames. Police claimed some miscreants had set fire to it.
Injuries in action by security forces were also reported from south Kashmir’s Hiller Dooru village and Nussu village of Qazigund.
In north Kashmir, more than 20 people were injured when police and paramilitary forces raided Dooru village — the native place of Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “We have received 12 injured. They were hit by pellets,” Block Medical Officer, Sopore, Dr Sami told The Sunday Express.
While police took away the public address system, villagers assembled again and held a rally, which was addressed by Geelani on the phone. At the function, where she laid the foundation stone for a 106-bed boys’ hostel at the Jammu Goverment Medical College, the CM thanked the Health Department for doing a “remarkable job” during the testing times in Kashmir. “The manner in which medics and paramedics rose to the occasion during the recent crisis in Kashmir and attended to their duties is commendable,” she said.
“The doctors did not even care about going back to their homes for days together and ensured that proper medical care was given to the patients,” she said, adding that this reposed public faith in the profession.