Five persons were killed and 18 injured Tuesday in fresh clashes in the Valley where security forces opened fire on protesters, raising the death toll to 65 in the unrest since the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani.
Four persons, including teenagers Javed Ahmad Najar and Javed Ahmad Sheikh, were killed and eight others injured when securitymen opened fire in Aripanthan village of Beerwah in Budgam district.
Police said protesters were hurling stones at a CRPF convoy. Doctors said two among the injured in hospital were in critical condition.
Aripanthan residents, however, alleged that the firing was a “revenge” for not allowing the hoisting of the Tricolour in the village on Independence Day. “Yesterday, officials wanted to unfurl the flag but we did not let that happen. They came to the village again at night to detain people but a crowd collected and turned them away. They returned this morning,” a village resident, who did not wish to be named, said.
Aripanthan falls in Beerwah, represented in the assembly by former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah. After the firing, Abdullah took to Twitter: “6 protestors dead in Kashmir in 24 hours but WTH let’s go sort out Balochistan since we are doing such a good job in J&K at the moment!!!”.
Hours after the Aripanthan incident, security personnel opened fire on protesters in Larkipora in Anantnag. Aamir Yousuf Ganai, a boy in his teens, died while ten others were injured. Residents claimed they were protesting peacefully when they were fired at.
“On Monday, a green flag was wrapped around a dog in the village. People were enraged and a sit-in was organised. This morning, men of the Rashtriya Rifles came to our village. We came out to protest but were fired at,” a resident alleged.
Angry residents set on fire the house of Sajad Ahmad, an Army man from the same unit of Rashtriya Rifles. His two brothers are also in the Army.
Following the two incidents, curfew and restriction measures were tightened in different parts of the Valley but protests continued at many places. A woman, peering out from the window of her house in Anantnag town, was hit in the face by pellets.
The J&K government declined any immediate comment on the two incidents of firing.
A PTI report from Srinagar quoted an official spokesman as saying that Lt Gen S K Dua met Governor N N Vohra and briefed him about the internal and external security situation and the Army’s preparedness to deal with any arising exigency. CRPF Inspector General Atul Karwal also called on the Governor and briefed him.
Meanwhile, the Army said five infiltrators killed in an operation Monday on the Line of Control in Uri sector had come with plans to attack a high-value civil or military target on Independence Day.
Uri is considered the shortest route to the Valley from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and is heavily guarded by the Army and other security agencies.
Major General J S Nain, General Officer Commanding, 19 Infantry Division, said the infiltrators were in combat dress. “By the quantity and quality of weapons they were carrying, it seems these militants were planning to target some big military or civilian target,” he said.
He said many areas in the Valley like Uri, Rampur, Bandi, Boneyar, Chandanwari and Nowgam have been peaceful and the infiltrators could have also come to strike in these areas. The Army said three-four infiltration attempts had been foiled in the Kupwara sector in the last six weeks.