AT LEAST 24 people were injured as a “1,000-strong crowd” clashed with security forces in Srinagar’s Nowhatta area while protesting against deployment of security forces and state police personnel outside Jamia Masjid during Friday prayers. The police reportedly fired pellets and burst teargas shells as the crowd shouted slogans and hurled stones at security forces.
More than “a dozen or so civilians” and an equal number of security personnel were injured, SP (North) Sajjad Shah said, adding that it took security forces at least three hours to bring the situation under control.
“The police and CRPF are deployed at Jamia Masjid every Friday as there are protests almost every week. But this was the second consecutive Friday when it turned violent. A crowd of more than a thousand gathered and shouted slogans and threw stones at security forces,” the SP said.
Separatist leaders condemned the deployment of security forces outside Jamia Masjid. Taking to Twitter after the clash, Huriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said: “Heavy deployment of Govt forces around #JamaMasjid even in this holy month leading to tension & agitation. Dozens of civilians injured after forces resorted to pellet & teargas shelling! large number of people unable to come out of the mosque. Condemn the deployment and forces action.”
Around a week ago, the Centre had announced ceasefire by the forces during Ramzan.
J&K Director General of Police SP Vaid told The Indian Express: “As soon as Friday prayers concluded, a huge gathering of youth started brandishing anti-national flags and banners and started heavy stone-pelting on the security forces, who were deployed away from Jamia Masjid near Nowhatta Chowk.” He said the police will consider reducing deployment if Mirwaiz and people of the area can ensure there would be no protests.
According to police sources, the police and CRPF were deployed in the area “to facilitate the worshippers and prevent any untoward incident” on the second Friday of Ramzan.