20 persons injured in clashes after Friday protests

Srinagar, Feb 17:
Nearly 20 persons were injured during clashes between youth and forces in downtown Srinagar and north Kashmir’s Sopore town on Friday.

Soon after the Friday congregational prayers at historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta, hundreds of people attempted to take out protest march against recent killings in Kulgam and Army chief Bipin Rawat’s controversial statement wherein he had warned of strict action against people who protest near encounter sites.

However, a huge contingent of police and paramilitary CRPF already deployed outside Jamia Majid intercepted the protesters, triggering clashes. Scores of youth took to streets and started pelting stones at forces while as police and CRPF men retaliated by firing dozens of teargas and PAVA shells. Some youngsters were also seen waving the Pakistani and ISIS flags.

General Rawat said forces in J&K are facing higher casualties because the local population is preventing them from conducting operations and at times even supporting the militants to escape. He also warned of stern action against youth who displayed flags of Pakistan and the Islamic State (ISIS).
Amid pro- freedom and anti-India slogans, protesters said no warning by Indian army or any politician would deter them from “taking the ongoing struggle to its logical end, by any means”.
“We have love for militants and this struggle, we are not scared of any warning,” said a protester, wishing not to be named.
Meanwhile, over 15 persons sustained minor injuries during police action.
Clashes were also witnessed in Rajouri Kadal area of downtown. Forces resorted to massive teargas shelling in the area to disperse the protesters. “Couple of youth were injured in the incident,” said a local.
Clashes also erupted between protesters and forces in Sopore town of Baramulla district soon after Friday prayers. Dozens of youth assembled outside Jamia Masjid Sopore to take out protest march against the recent killings.
Amid pro- freedom and anti-India slogans, youth tried to march towards the main chowk where they were intercepted by forces already deployed there. As police tried to disperse the protesters, it triggered clashes in the area. Forces fired dozens of teargas shells at the protesters.