Highway Murder: South Kashmir Boils In Rage

20 October 2015
Kashmir Observer
Sameer Ahmad and Naveed Bhat

Anantnag: Amid spontaneous shutdown against the murder of Kashmiri trucker Zahid Rasool Bhat, scores of areas across South Kashmir Tuesday remained on the edge with violent clashes and protests leaving dozens wounded. The trouble began after some men from Paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force roughed up an auto-driver and few other pedestrians near Lal Chowk area of Islamabad town early in the day. Eyewitnesses said that everything was normal in the town. Authorities had created barricades near Lal Chowk to restrict the movement of the people. Situation turned ugly when some CRPF personnel from 19 Battalion intercepted a load-carrier (JK01P-1863) near Lal Chowk and roughed him up without any provocation. 'I was coming from Vailo hamlet. I fail to understand why these unbridled CRPF personnel beat me up. I obeyed their orders and stopped without uttering a word they started thrashing me. When some pedestrians tried to intervene, the CRPF men roughed them up too,' Gulzar Ahmed, the load carrier driver said. Soon after the incident, people mostly youth took to streets in large numbers and clashed with government forces. The clashes spread to other parts including Lasbal, Gulshanabad, Dangarpora, Kadipora, Reshibazar and Mattan Chowk. Protesters amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans burnt rubber tyres on the roads near Lasbal. Thousands took out a march from Malapora area eyewitnesses said adding when the march reached near Wanpou area, the government forces fried tear-smoke shells and pepper gas canisters to disperse it. Eyewitnesses said that police also fired several live rounds in air to scare away the protesters. The infuriated protesters hurled rocks on the police and CRPF personnel and attacked armoured vehicles with sticks and stones. Violent clashes were also reported from Dangarpora and Mattan Chowk of the district. One civilian was seriously wounded during the clashes near Khanabal and was shifted to Srinagar for advanced treatment. Eyewitnesses said that Government forces also resorted to tear-gas shelling in Janglat Mandi and Lasbal to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, all the shops, educational institutions and business establishments remained shut for the second consecutive day in the district to mourn the death of 16 year old Zahid Rasool Bhat. Reports said that public as well as private transport remained off the roads while heavy deployment of troopers and police personnel were seen on roads to restore normalcy in the town. A police official said that barring few incidents of stone-pelting at some places, the situation remained peaceful in the town. Meanwhile a report from Bijbehara said, clashes between forces and protesters also erupted in the Chief Minister Mufti Sayeeds home town. A five year old girl, Talha daughter of Sheeraz Ahmad of Mirgund Anantnag, was injured after she was hit by a stone on her head in Pazalpora in Bijbehara. She has been hospitalized and is undergoing treatment, police sources said. Protests and clashes also erupted in Kulgam town. According to source, four persons including a non-local labourer from Punjab identified as Musaib were injured at Qaimoh during clashes. The protests were also held at Wanpoh in Qazigund area of the Kulgam district. The students of Kashmir University at Hazratbal Campus here staged protests against the murder of Zahid. The protesters chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and accused government of sponsoring communal elements. Meanwhile, the police today re-arrested Mirwaiz South Kashmir and chairman of Ummat-e-Islami Qazi Yasir while government forces broke the window panes and glasses of the residential house of Hurriyat leader, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza.