Srinagar: Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces in the old city here today after the death of a youth who was allegedly hit by a CRPF vehicle during another confrontation yesterday.
Protesters pelted stones when security forces stopped his funeral procession at Fatehkadal, a police official said. The forces fired dozens of tear smoke shells and pellets to chase them away. Some protesters received minor injuries, the official said. The authorities had imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar after Kaiser Bhat (21) died in hospital around midnight. But hundreds of people turned out for the funeral.
He was later buried at Eidgah even as reports came in of clashes elsewhere in the city. Following the youth's death, the separatists had given a strike call across Kashmir today, prompting shopkeepers and other business owners to down shutters.
The clash in which Bhat was fatally injured took place yesterday after Friday prayers ended at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar's Nowhatta area. A group of youths had started pelting stones at the security forces, with some of them attacking a CRPF vehicle. Bhat and another man were taken to SKIMS hospital at Soura after being hit by that vehicle. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah criticised the security forces, tweeting that they now “drive their jeeps right over protestors”.
This prompted a sharp reaction from Union minister Jitendra Singh, who told reporters that some politicians find security forces soft targets and are quick to condemn them. Earlier in the day, before the violence during the funeral procession, the authorities had imposed a curfew in Nowhatta.
Restrictions under section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits the gathering of people, were also in force in six other police station areas of the city – Rainawari, Safakadal, Khanyar, MR Gunj, Maisuma and Kralkhud. The curbs were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.
Buses didn't run in Srinagar following the strike call by the separatists. But private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in the areas where there were no restrictions. Private schools were shut in the city, an official said. He said similar reports of the strike being observed were received from other district headquarters in the Valley. Train services in Kashmir were also stopped for the day.
The authorities suspended mobile internet services in Srinagar and Budgam districts while the network speed was reduced in four south Kashmir districts. Police had booked unidentified stone-pelters for attempt to murder and rioting while charging the CRPF driver with rash driving in connection with yesterday's clashes.