SRINAGAR: At least eight persons including senior Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz were killed as troopers opened indiscriminate fire at several places in the Valley to prevent massive processions from marching towards Muzaffarabad. A senior police officer was under attack in North Kashmir. His properties were attacked by strong mobs while several bunkers were demolished and gypsies burnt down by processionists during the “Muzaffarabad March”. Medical Superintendent, SMHS Wasim Qureshi told Rising Kashmir that four injured including Huriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz died in the hospital.
Besides, Aziz two more persons identified as Manzoor Ahmad Akhoon son of Haji Abdul Shaban of Khanpora Baramulla and Abdul Hamid Bhat of Kanlibagh, Baramulla also injured when police fired at protestors at Tachal, Uri. They died on way to hospital. Qureshi further said that two of the dead persons belong to Baramulla and were brought dead to hospital. “Another person was killed in firing by police at Qamarwari,” he said. Another protector identified as Irfan Nazir Lone of Thindma Kreeri died on spot in police firing at Sangrama in North Kashmir district of Baramulla as the massive group of marchers heading for Muzzaffarabad were intercepted by police at Sangrama.
In another incident Ishfaq Khan of Qamarwari was killed when hundreds and thousands of marchers were intercepted by police and paramilitary CRPF at Qamarwari. The police opened fire directly on the marchers and used innumerable teargas canisters. The incident resulted in killing of Ahmad besides injuring of scores of people. Following the killing of six protestors including senior Huriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the authorities imposed curfew in Srinagar and other parts of Valley. An official spokesman said that curfew was imposed in Srinagar and other major towns of valley as a precautionary measure.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Masoud Samoon told Rising Kashmir that curfew will be enforced on Tuesday also to prevent the situation from taking ugly turn. Sources said that the security forces and police have been asked to remain on high alert and people were asked to remain indoor. The announcements were being made through public address system calling on people not to venture out and stay put in their homes.
Earlier, people in thousands marched towards North Kashmir to participate in the “Muzaffarabad March” to protest against the economic blockade of the Valley. In North Kashmir, the march to Muzaffarabad commenced from Sopore Fruit Mandi after people defied restrictions. Sopore Fruit Mandi was besieged early morning by police and CRPF men and five trade union leaders were detained and tyres of decorated fruit laden trucks were deflated by the troopers.
After arrest of leaders, announcements were made through Public Address System (PAS) asking people to join the “Muzaffarabad March”. People heeded the call and thousands of them marched from four sides of Mandi and broke the cordon. Seeing thousands of people marching towards them, the troopers ran for cover and the protestors damaged two gypsies of police and CRPF.
Afterwards, thousands of people proceeded towards Muzaffarabad on foot from apple town Sopore carrying placards and banners. “Bridle these fanatics”, “Open Muzaffarabad road”, read the banners carried by people. As they reached Sopore town, they clashed with police, who tried to prevent them from moving ahead. Since the protestors were thousands, they managed to cross the barricades and reached Sangrama, where they were fired upon by policemen, causing death of Tahir Ahmad Lone and injuries to another protestor, Nasir Ahmad. This infuriated the protestors, who burnt down two police gypsy bearing numbers JK05- 4772 and JKO5 5819.
Thousands of people again joined march with women lined up on roadside yelling pro freedom and pro–Pakistan slogans. They were seen serving water and food packets to the protestors and praying for their safety. After the protestors reached Baramulla, the processionists boarded buses, trucks, scooters to move towards Muzaffarabad. Amidst pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans, the protestors, who were led by Huriyat leaders, Sheikh Abdul Aziz and Shabir Ahmad Shah reached Tachal, Uri, some 20 kms from Uri. They could not move ahead as the army had dug up trenches to prevent people and vehicles from moving ahead.
When the protestors tried to march ahead, they were fired on by the troopers, causing injuring to at least 20 persons including Sheikh Abdul Aziz. Aziz received bullet injury in his abdomen and was rushed to nearby hospital, where from he was referred to SMHS hospital, where he succumbed. After the firing incident, the stand-off between the protestors and troopers continued with the protestors refusing to move back. Senior Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah along with thousands of protestors were camping in Nowshera, Uri and will resume “Muzaffarabad March” on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, thousands of people were on streets till late night at Sangrama, Delina, Sheeri, Hyderbugh, Zumgum, Pattan. They were waiting for the sunrise to recommence their “Muzaffarabad March”. In a related development, senior Huriyat leader Nayeem Khan was arrested by police. He was detained in Panzla police station, which is the last village in Rafiabad.
Meanwhile, after the death of Huriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the protestors attacked police station, Gantamulla and ransacked it. “14 persons detained in the police station were set free by the mob,” sources said adding, “The station was later set afire by the agitating people”. The protestors also attacked the residence of SHO Police Station Sheeri, Baramulla, Khurshid Khan at Shervani Colony, Gantamulla. “They ransacked the police officer’s bungalow and later set it on fire,” sources said, adding, “It was completely damaged in the blaze”.
The police officer’s brother too was at the receiving end. His brother’s showroom, Irshad Motors, was also set on fire by the angry mob. The mobs have been attacking the properties of the police officer following the killing of Aziz. The protestors alleged that the police officer had fired bullets on Aziz, causing his death. Scores of people, including chairperson of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Aasiya Andrabi, were injured in the clashes. To prevent situation for escalation, authorities in the evening imposed curfew within the municipal limits of Srinagar.