Srinagar: Fresh violence erupted in the Kashmir Valley on Friday after days of relative calm with security forces opening fire to quell stone-pelting protesters who clashed with them at several places, leaving three persons dead and 70 others injured.
Strict restrictions were imposed on the movement of people following a call by the separatists to march to Maisuma in the heart of the city to protest the killing of youths allegedly in firing by security forces during demonstrations.
Shoukat Ahmad Chopan and Mohammad Ahsan Ganai were killed and seven others injured when security forces opened fire on a mob at Arampora village of Sopore, 55 kms from here in Baramulla district of north Kashmir this afternoon, police said.
They said the people took to streets shortly after Friday prayers and were heading towards Sopore town when the security forces intercepted them and asked them to disperse.
However, the protesters turned violent and indulged in stone-pelting on a CRPF picket. The security personnel opened fire, resulting in injuries to seven persons who were rushed to hospital. Chopan and Ganai succumbed to injuries at SMHS hospital here, they said.
Seven persons were injured when police opened fire after a group of youths went on rampage and set ablaze a vehicle parked inside police station Pattan, 27 kms from here on Srinagar-Baramulla national highway, police said.
They said the fire also damaged a single-storey building within the police station complex but the main building remained unaffected by the blaze. However, the window panes of the building were smashed by the stone throwers, resulting in injuries to at least 12 policemen including the Station House Officer.
The condition of three of the injured protesters was stated to be "critical".
Out of 70 injured in clashes, at least 10 suffered bullet injuries and were undergoing treatment in different hospitals.
The clashes come nearly 10 days after a person was killed and another injured in police firing in self-defence on a mob which turned violent during funeral of youth who had drowned in Jhelum river in Baramulla district.
Condemning the killings, Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today said such incidents were contributing to an "unprecedented worsening of situation".
PDP general secretary Mohammad Dilawar Mir, in a statement here, accused the state administration of failing to perform its duty.
The state unit of CPI(M) also expressed grief and shock over the killings.
"Yet another unfortunate day of grief and gloom for the people of the Valley. This unending bloodletting course is bound to generate further anger and disillusionment among our people," CPI(M) state secretary M Y Tarigami said and appealed to the people to exercise restraint during protests.
Trouble started in Srinagar early today when security forces allegedly opened fire on a stone-pelting mob at old Channapora in uptown Srinagar, seriously injuring two youths.
The clashes soon spread to the adjoining localities, including Rambagh and Barzulla on Srinagar-Airport road, as people defied restrictions and indulged in violence.
Police and CRPF personnel fired dozens of warning shots as teargas shelling and baton charge proved ineffective to restore order, police said, adding three more persons were injured and were undergoing treatment in various hospitals.
The condition of Mohammad Iqbal Khan and Mohammad Amir is stated to be "critical", officials said.
The personnel of Special Operations Group (SOG) of local police fired dozens of warning shots when hundreds of people surrounded their camp in Baramulla district, 35 kms from here, alleging that a youth had gone missing after he was allegedly picked up by SOG four days back, police said.
Reinforcements were rushed to the scene and senior officials assured protesters that the case will be investigated, they said.
As the protesters refused to disperse, police burst teargas shells and used batons to chase them away. The protesters regrouped and later pelted stones at a police station at nearby Pattan, they said adding 15 persons were injured in the clashes.
Ten more persons were injured in clashes in Tral township, 35 kms from here in Pulwama district of south Kashmir shortly after Friday prayers.
Police said a group of youths took to streets and pelted stones on Deputy Commissioner's office in Shopian town, 52 kms from here in south Kashmir. The ensuing clashes left six persons injured.
Fierce clashes between protesters and security forces were witnessed in Baramulla district town resulting in injuries to over 15 people. Five youths were injured when security forces allegedly opened fire at Hanjiveera in Pattan area of Baramulla district.
All the injured were brought to a hospital here and the condition of two of them is stated to be "critical".
Shortly after Friday prayers, protesters took out a march from Machoo on the outskirts of the city. The marchers were later dispersed by police at Rambagh as they tried to move towards Lal Chowk, police said.
With the separatists giving the march call to Maisuma here, authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of people in the city, parts of Budgam, Anantnag, Pulwama districts and Sopore town since early this morning.
Normal life has been hit in Kashmir for the past five weeks following the death of youth after he was allegedly hit by a teargas shell near Rajourikadal in downtown Srinagar on June 11 which sparked violent protests in the Valley.