Scores hurt in clashes

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, May 25: Clashes erupted between youth and security forces in Srinagar’s Old City and Anantnag’s Lal Chowk after Friday prayers even as authorities allowed prayers at historic Jamia Masjid here.
Stone pelting clashes erupted in Nowhatta area of Old City and Lal Chowk in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Scores of youths pelted stones on police and paramilitary CRPF in these areas. The forces retaliated by firing teargas and pellets. At least 20 youth were injured in as security forces used force against protesters.
Meanwhile, there were no restrictions in any part of Old City today and the Jamia Masjid was also open for the public where thousands of people offered Friday prayers which was addressed by Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
A police spokesman said: “Today was the 2nd Friday of the holy month of Ramadhan and police personnel were deployed in the area to facilitate the worshipers and prevent any untoward incident in the area.”
“As soon as the Friday prayers concluded, a huge gathering of youth started bradishing anti-national flags and banners and started heavy stone pelting on security forces who were deployed away from the Jamia Masjid near Nowhatta Chowk”, the spokesman said
“During stone pelting, dozens of CRPF/police personnel including SDPO Khanyar and SHO Nowhatta got injured. One of the CRPF personnel namely HC JD Gurcharan Singh F/28 suffered grievous head injury. Then miscreants about 700 to 800 in number assembled near the main gate of Jamia masjid and again started heavy stone pelting on the security forces,” the spokesman said.
However, security forces showed utmost restraint and some ammunition was used to disperse the miscreants and hence minimal force was used to control the situation, the spokesman said. In this connection FIR No 16/2018 p/s Nowhatta u/s 147,148,152,307,427 RPC has been registered & investigation taken up, he added.
Hurriyat Conference (M) has strongly condemned the use of force and firing of pellets on the people who had come from far off places to offer Friday prayers and listen to the sermon of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and to seek the blessings of Almighty in the sacred month of Ramadhan in unison.
A Hurriyat (M) spokesperson said ahead of the Friday prayers, entire Nowhatta and Jamia Masjid was turned into a military fortress with the huge deployment of police and paramilitary forces with a sole aim of disrupting peace and to damage the sanctity of central masjid, which is a spiritual centre of lakhs of Kashmiris.
He denounced the firing of hundreds of lethal pellets, tear gas and pava shells on the peaceful worshipers injuring including shopkeepers of Nowhatta area terming it as an ultimate repression and force’s highhandedness.
Meanwhile, the mosque has been closed for further prayers as there is blood from pellet injuries all over the mosque which needs to be cleaned first, the spokesperson said.

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