Protesters defy curfew, 36 hurt in Valley clashes

FP

Despite appeals of calm from CM Omar Abdullah and a strict curfew, protesters clashed with police and paramilitary forces in different parts of the Valley Saturday, leaving 36 people injured, including 23 police personnel. The injured included 10 protesters hit by allegedly police firing.

"I appeal to people to maintain peace," Omar said at a hurriedly convened press conference in Srinagar. "The case was with the Centre and the state government had nothing to do with it. I was informed through telephone by the home minister about it yesterday at around 8 pm."

Security forces had been deployed in strength across the valley in anticipation of trouble following Afzal Guru's hanging. But as the news of the execution spread, thousands of villagers defied curfew and marched towards Doabgah, Afzal's native village that had been sealed. Eight were injured in clashes with security forces, five of whom were hit by pellets.

The Army had been called in to assist police and paramilitary in Sopore and Baramulla. However, clashes were reported from both towns.

A civilian was injured in Baramulla when police and CRPF opened fire on protesters. "We have received 13 injured in our hospital. Eight of them have received bullet injuries," said the deputy medical superintendent of Baramulla district hospital.

In Srinagar, where a strict curfew was imposed, police blocked all roads with barricades and spools of concertina wire. People are not allowed to move out of their homes. A protester was injured when he was hit by pellets at Zakura on the outskirts of Srinagar city.

"Police exercised maximum restraint while dispersing stone-pelters. Twenty-three policemen, including a superintendent and a deputy superintendent, were injured," police spokesperson Manoj Kumar said.

In south Kashmir, where too a strict curfew was imposed in all major towns, protesters tried to set the house of a former National Conference legislator on fire.

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