Hurriyat march foiled amid clashes, many injured

Srinagar : Dozens of people were injured on Sunday in clashes between security forces and protesters as authorities foiled a march called by the Hurriyat leadership in the Kashmir Valley, witnesses said.

The protesters wanted to march towards Lal Chowk in the heart of the city but police sealed off the area and imposed curfew and severe restrictions all across the troubled valley.

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Police claimed the situation was peaceful in most parts of Kashmir.

But a police spokesperson said dozens of stone pelting incidents were reported from Srinagar, Anantnag, Shopian, Awantipora, Baramulla, Sopore, Achabal and Bandipora towns.

Massive clashes erupted in north Kashmir’s Bandipora area as youths hoisted a Pakistan flag at Gulshan Chowk. Sunday was Pakistan’s Independence Day.

Witnesses said that despite curfew, a large number of youths assembled at the town’s main square.

But as they tried to march towards the Martyrs’ graveyard at Nusoo, a huge contingent of police and paramilitary forces intercepted them and fired several tear gas canisters, triggering clashes.

Three youths were critically injured when security forces fired at protesters in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, residents said.

On the night of August 13-14, some young men hoisted Pakistan flags at Daharmuan and Soibugh areas in Badgam district.

On Sunday, the security personnel pulled down all the flags. “As the forces trampled the flags, the youths started pelting stones, triggering clashes,” a resident said.

Security forces also reportedly opened fire, injuring three persons.

Scores of women, including Dukhtaran-e-Millat chairperson Aasiya Andrabi, were reportedly injured when security forces fired tear gas to quell an all-women march in south Kashmir’s Tral town, witnesses said.

Raising pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans, the women were seen carrying green colour as well as Pakistani flags.

Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani staged a sit-in outside his Hyderpora residence when he was stopped from marching to Lal Chowk in downtown Srinagar.

And when Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also broke out of his house arrest and tried to march toward Lal Chowk, a huge contingent of police and paramilitary forces outside his house arrested him.

He was lodged at a police station at Nigeen.

Meanwhile, normal life remained affected in the Kashmir Valley for the 37th day due to curbs imposed by the authorities and a shutdown called by the Hurriyat leadership.

Life in the valley has been paralyzed since militant commander Burhan Wani was killed on July 8, triggering widespread clashes between protesters and security forces leaving over 55 people dead and thousands injured.