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Protests spread to south Kashmir,3 teens killed in firing in Anantnag

Three teenage boys were killed after police and CRPF fired at protesters in Anantnag today,taking the civilian death toll in the last 18 days in the Valley to 11....

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Srinagar |
June 30, 2010 3:43:49 am

Three teenage boys were killed after police and CRPF fired at protesters in Anantnag today,taking the civilian death toll in the last 18 days in the Valley to 11. The anger and protests have spread to south Kashmir,and today’s deaths provoked widespread violence that left two government buildings,a police post and scores of government vehicles in flames.

At Safakadal in Srinagar city,the CRPF allegedly fired on an ambulance,smashing the windshield. Driver Ghulam Mohammad and doctor Mohammad Yaqoob had a close shave. At Sangam on the Srinagar-Jammu highway,the CRPF allegedly stopped another ambulance carrying some wounded demonstrators to Srinagar,and beat up the driver.

“It is disgusting. They have started firing at our ambulances,” said Dr Waseem Qureshi,Medical Superintendent of SMHS Hospital . “How will we bring the injured to hospital?”

At a press conference in the evening,Chief Minister Omar Abdullah appealed to the people to refrain from protests and respect the curfew,which he said would “help cool tempers” and “give time for the healing process”.

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He toned down his government’s earlier attacks on the CRPF,and blamed the violence on “anti-national forces and vested interests”. “If there is a complaint (against the CRPF),it is only about aberrations,” the CM said. He added that there was no rift between his government and the CRPF.

“This is not a simple law and order matter brought about by the absence of governance,” Omar said. “It is a battle of wits,a battle of ideas and a battle of ideologies in which various anti-national forces and vested interests have come together to create trouble… I would like to make an appeal to the people of the Valley to co-operate and remain inside their homes and not to violate the curfew and not engage with security forces.”

The curfew,Omar said,would be enforced. “Security forces have been told with a caveat of maximum restrain that they will have to enforce the curfew. We have a duty to restore normalcy and we will do everything possible in the shortest possible time in those affected areas,” he said.

The CM appealed to the public,political parties of all shades and ideologies,and religious leaders to help the government to restore normalcy. He also appealed to parents to ensure their children didn’t venture out.

Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday (15),Imtiyaz Ahmad Yatoo (17) and Sajad-ul-Islam (18) were killed in Lazbal,Anantnag,after police and the CRPF chased a group of people protesting the deaths of young men in Sopore and Baramulla,which are under curfew.

Trouble began in the morning after police fired at protesters in Mattan Chowk in Anantnag,injuring one person. This led to further protests and street battles over the next several hours,with the police and CRPF using tear smoke shells and firing in the air to scatter the crowd.

In the late afternoon,a large number of protesters gathered at S K Colony in the interiors of Anantnag town. Around 4.20 pm,eyewitnesses alleged,the police opened indiscriminate fire at both protesters and bystanders. Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday was killed on the lawn of his home,and Imtiyaz Ahmad Yatoo,a baker,was hit inside his shop.

“The police firing was unprovoked and indiscriminate,” said Hamid Ahmad Ganai,an eyewitness. “They fired at Ishtiyaq from close range… They were led by the local SHO.”

Doctors at the local hospital said most of the wounded had suffered gunshot injuries above the abdomen. Imtiyaz Ahmad Yatoo and Sajad-ul-Islam,who were brought dead to hospital,had been shot through the head; Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday had been hit in the chest.

Among the four wounded in the firing was nine-year-old Suhail Ahmad,who was shot in the shoulder. The others were Zahid Ahmad,Nazir Ahmad and Fayaz Ahmad Rather,who was hit in the chest,and was understood to be fighting for life at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital.

The Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) received three wounded youth from Anantnag today. “All are stable,” Medical Superintendent Mohammad Amin Tabish said.

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