Home » India » Army out in Srinagar as turmoil worsens

SRINAGAR: After months of calm that had raised hopes of normalcy, Kashmir appears to be getting swept into a spiral of violence again, forcing the authorities to call out the Army across the entire Srinagar city.

“The Army will now take over the entire patrolling responsibility in the city from the CRPF and police,” J&K director-general of police Kuldeep Khoda told TOI. The decision was taken after three more protesters, including a 25-year-old woman, were killed in CRPF firing on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in such incidents to 14 since June 11.

Authorities reimposed curfew in most parts of the Valley, which has been simmering since tempers flared after the killing of a 17-year-old in police action last month.

The latest protests broke out after residents of Srinagar’s Batmaloo area alleged that a teenager, Fayaz Ahmad, was killed after CRPF fired at a group of people protesting the drowning of another youth, Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat. The body of the 17-year-old was recovered from a rivulet on Monday night and residents alleged that security forces had thrashed him and thrown him in. CRPF denied firing at the mourners and maintained that Bhat had accidentally fallen into the rivulet.

14 killed in CRPF firing since June 11

Kashmir, after a long period of lull, is on the boil again. The toll since June 11 from CRPF firing on street protesters rose to 14 on Tuesday with three more deaths, including that of a 25-year-old woman.

Police claimed the woman died after a stray bullet hit her in her chest as cops fired in the air to quell protests against the death of two youths — Fayaz Ahmad and Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat — at Danderkha in central Srinagar. Srinagar’s SMHS hospital superintendent Dr Wasim Qureshi said the woman was declared brought dead, with a bullet in her chest.

Hours later, another youth, Abrar Ahmad (18), was killed after CRPF fired at a group of agitators protesting earlier killings at Maisuma, a volatile Srinagar neighbourhood infamous for its stone-pelting incidents. Another youth was critically injured in the incident. Authorities rushed reinforcements to the area to quell further protests.

Residents allege that Bhat’s alleged drowning at Gangbugh Nallah that triggered Tuesday’s violence was due to CRPF troopers chasing away four boys at Tengpora in Srinagar after they stoned housing minister Nasir Aslam Wani’s motorcade in Batmaloo. Three of them managed to swim across, while Bhat drowned. Eyewitnesses said as word spread, hundreds of people poured into the streets to protest the killings. Protests were also reported from Srinagar’s tony localities like Barzulla, Hyderpora and Peerbagh. More than a dozen protesters, including seven photo journalists, were injured in the clashes. Women also joined protesters at Tengpora and Maisuma.

Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who spent much of last month under house arrest, staged a sit-in with his supporters in old Srinagar as part of his civil disobedience movement. His aide said the agitation would continue until military and paramilitary soldiers are removed from civilian areas. Later, police used batons, teargas shells and fired in the air to disperse the Mirwaiz’s supporters at Khanyar.

The Mirwaiz is also set to stage a protest at Hawal and Alamgari Bazar on Wednesday. Union home minister P Chidambaram has urged CM Abdullah and his ministers to visit the troubled areas and take stock of the growing anger that is threatening to rekindle the azadi campaign.

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