15 hurt as clashes erupt in Kashmir valley

Srinagar: At least 15 people were injured as fresh clashes broke out between protesters, demanding the release of youths arrested on charges of stone-hurling, and security forces in different parts of Kashmir valley on Sunday.

Security forces fired rubber bullets, lobbed tear gas shells and swung batons to disperse unruly youths who stoned jawans in Baramulla, Sopore and Srinagar, official sources said.

At least 15 people, one of them allegedly hit by a rubber bullet, were injured in day-long pitched battles, they said.

Seven were injured in Baramulla, where the violence erupted first, five in Sopore and three in Srinagar, the sources said adding the youth who reportedly received rubber bullet injuries was hospitalised and was in stable condition.

However, the rest of the valley returned to normal after a day-long shutdown sponsored by separatists to protest what they said "unrelenting violation of human rights" in Kashmir valley.

The violence first erupted in Baramulla town, where the clashes continued for the third straight day today, and later spread to adjoining Sopore and Srinagar, the sources said.

Chanting pro-freedom slogans, the youths took to the streets demanding release of those arrested in the past few weeks for their alleged involvement in stone-pelting.

The sources said the police and the CRPF fired a few rubber bullets after the cane-charge and the tear gas failed to scatter the protesters.

In Srinagar, protests erupted in Maisuma and adjoining areas in the afternoon with youths, including women, burning tyres and stoning police and para-military personnel.

Apple-rich Sopore town, where five people were injured, had remained by and large peaceful during the general strike, sponsored by separatists, yesterday.

In Srinagar, the news about the slapping of the Public Safety Act on a youth, arrested two days ago on charges of stone-pelting, accentuated the violence.

Police used force when some youths tried to stage a demonstration in violation of prohibitory orders in force in the summer capital.

Elsewhere in Kashmir valley, life returned to normal as shops and businesses opened and vehicles plied on roads.

CRPF seeks people's co-op

The Central Reserve Police Force today sought people's co-operation against the menace of stone-pelting by unruly elements in Kashmir valley.

"We expect the elders to dissuade the youth indulging in such activities which harms the society. I want to see a cricket ball in the hands of the youth instead of stones," IG of CRPF, Central Kashmir, P B K Reddy said at a function here.

Reddy urged the elders to persuade the youth from turning away from anti-social activities.

Warning of stern action against those indulging in the menace, the IG said that police was doing its job to deal with the problem.

Commanding officer of the 117th Battalion, Prabakhar Tripathi, was appreciated for his initiative to organise the meet to bridge the gap between public and the force.

The senior officer also expressed hope that people would come forward so that any misgivings were addressed properly.