Kashmir Shuts Against Palhalan Youth's Killing

10 February 2015
Greater Kashmir
Shabir ibn Yusuf and Khalid Gul

Srinagar: Parts of Srinagar and Sopore were Tuesday placed under strict curfew as Kashmir observed a complete shutdown against the killing of a youth in north Kashmir's Palhalan area by government forces yesterday. Farooq Ahmad Bhat, 22, was killed and two other youth critically injured after police opened fire on protesters in Palhalan, triggering clashes and Kashmir-wide shutdown call by separatist leaders. The call for shutdown was given Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik and other separatist leaders. In Srinagar, curfew was imposed in old Srinagar areas falling under police stations of Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Mahraj Jung, SafaKadal and Maisuma. The curfew was imposed in entire Sopore town while other towns in the Valley witnessed heavy deployment of forces since Tuesday morning, reports said. The resident of old Srinagar and Maisuma said joint contingents of police and paramilitary forces arrived in their localities early Tuesday morning and blocked roads with razor wire and armored vehicles. The lanes and by-lanes in Civil Lines areas witnessed thick deployment of forces. The traffic movement in entire city and attendance in government offices was thin. In other parts of Kashmir, shops and business establishments were shut and traffic was off the roads. Reports said clashes between police and protesters erupted in Batamaloo and HMT areas of Srinagar. Budgam and Ganderbal districts of central Kashmir also witnessed a complete shutdown against the killing of Palhalan youth. In Bandipora district of north Kashmir, reports said groups of youth took to streets and held strong protest demonstrations. They said the youth clashed with contingents of police and paramilitary forces in Papchan, Naidkhai and Hajin. Reports said protestors tried to set ablaze a police barrack, but cops foiled the attempt. Kupwara, Handwara and other towns of Kupwara district observed a complete shutdown. Reports of clashes were also received from Kakapora area of Pulwama district. They said that police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the protesters. Amid complete shutdown, clashes also erupted in JanglatMandi area of Anantnag (Islamabad) district after police intercepted a group of protestors. Shutdown was also observed in Shopian district. JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik continued to remain under detention in Central Jail Srinagar while Hurriyat Conference (G) leaders including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and AyazAkber, Hurriyat (JK) leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Shabir Ahmad Shah, were also confined to their houses. The Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chairman Shabir Ahmad Shah was detained by police along with more than a dozen party activists when they tried to break the police cordon at Shah's residence to march towards the UN office here. PFP was scheduled to hold a peaceful protest at LalChowk against the killing of youth in Palhallan and also seek return of mortal remains of Muhammad MaqboolBhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru. The party was also scheduled to submit a memorandum at the UN office here, but police foiled the programme, a party spokesman said. MASSIVE CLASHES IN KULGAM Several people including four cops and two CRPF men were injured as massive protests erupted in Khudwani area of Kaimoh in Kulgam district on Tuesday, even as complete shutdown was observed in entire South Kashmir, against the killing of a youth by government forces in Palhalan yesterday. Police and paramilitary forces, wearing riot-gear and armed with sophisticated weapons, were deployed in strength in almost all major townships of South Kashmir to thwart the protest demonstrations. Reports said in Khudwani area of Kaimoh Tehsil in Kulgam district, youth took to streets and staged massive pro-freedom and anti-India protests. 'They resorted to heavy stone pelting on the forces who retaliated with lathi-charge, triggering clashes,' reports said. They said though forces chased the youth, they did not relent and fought pitched battles which continued throughout the day. 'At least four cops and two CRPF men sustained injuries after being hit by stones,' witnesses said. Several youth also sustained injuries during the clashes, they added. 'A youth was mercilessly beaten up by the forces and was detained despite sustaining grievous injuries,' locals alleged. The protests in Kaimoh, Khudwani and adjoining villages were on till last reports came in. Meanwhile, shutdown was observed in South Kashmir towns of Kulgam, Anantnag (Islamabad), Bijbehara, Pulwama, Tral, Awantipora, Pampore and Shopian with shops closed and traffic off the roads.