Dozens injured in forces’ pellet firing inside Jamia
Srinagar: An injured shopkeeper being shifted to hospital after he was hit by pellets during clashes between police and protesters which erupted after prayers,in Srinagar on Friday. PTI Photo by Umar Ganie
Srinagar, May 25: Dozens of people were injured at Nowhatta in old Srinagar on Friday when the government forces fired pellets and tear smoke to disperse the protesters.
Soon after the Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, addressed the congregation inside the Jamia Masjid, nearly a dozen youth took out a protest rally.
The large contingents of police and paramilitary CRPF, busy in frisking the vehicles and pedestrians outside the mosques’ gates, responded by firing tear smoke canisters and pellets.
Chased, the protestors took refuge inside the compound of the mosque.
The clashes intensified, resulting in injuries to several among the protesters and shopkeepers, many of them hit by pellets in their faces or chests.
As per the traders, scores of the tear-smoke shells and pellets landed inside the mosque and injured the people offering prayers.
“There was chaos all over, and every devotee, especially women, was shouted for help. Firing of shells by the police started at 1:30pm and lasted till 5:30 pm,” Javed Zargar, President Jamia Market Traders Federation, said.
He said announcements were made from the mosque about injuries to 20 people.
“They locked the gates of the mosque and announcements about injured were continuously made on the loudspeakers,” Zargar said.
He said the forces fired shells “indiscriminately” from all the gates to the mosque.
“We don’t understand why the police and CRPF were deployed there? Last Friday, when there was no deployment of forces, the entire went peacefully. They should have, at least, considered the sanctity of Ramadan. The injured people included elderly, women, and children,” Zargar said.
He said the traders association in the old city has decided to observe shutdown on Saturday against the forces action on civilians and traders.
“The decision was taken unanimously by all the traders association of downtown. We will hold a sit-in protest tomorrow at Nowhatta Chowk as well against the excesses by the forces,” Zargar said.
The locals alleged that the forces fired tear gas shells into the homes.
“The tear gas shells were fired into our homes and we could even breathe properly for hours together. They didn’t spare anyone and kept chasing the youth,” Farooq Ahmad, a local said.
Doctors at the SMHS Hospital informed that at least 30 injured with pellet wounds were brought to them for treatment.
They said that majority of them have received pellets in the face or upper chest.
“Some of them have been discharged while few are being treated currently,” a doctor, wishing anonymity, said.
A senior police official told The Kashmir Monitor the forces were deployed due to the higher congregation at the mosque.
“The congregation was very high. Besides, the forces were actually provoked by the stone-throwers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the deployment of the forces outside the Jamia Masjid leads to “tension and agitation” in the area.
“Heavy deployment of Govt forces around #JamaMasjid even in this holy month leading to tension& agitation. Dozens of civilians injured after forces resorted to pellet &teargas shelling!large number of people unable to come out of the mosque. Condemn the deployment and forces action,” Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.
No prayers could be held in the mosque later in the day, as the Jamia Auqaf closed it to wash the blood.