Street clashes mar Eid festivities in Valley

SRINAGAR, JUN 26: Eid was celebrated across Jammu and Kashmir on Monday but the festivities were marred by clashes between protesters and security forces in many parts of the Kashmir Valley, injuring some 20 people.
Five policemen, including a senior officer, were injured in the south Kashmir town of Anantnag after protesters took on the security forces in Janglat Mandi area immediately after Eid prayers.
The clashes, with mobs of young men hurling stones at security forces, then spread to adjoining Achabal area in Anantnag district.
Similar street fighting also broke out in Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama towns in southern Kashmir.
Two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were injured in Srinagar’s Old City area where youths threw stones at security forces.
Similar clashes were reported from north Kashmir’s Sopore and Pattan towns too.
The security forces used tear smoke shells and pellet shotguns to disperse the protesters.
Witnesses and official sources said over a dozen demonstrators sustained injuries in the action by the security forces.
“The security forces are exercising maximum restraint while dealing with the stone-pelting mobs,” a senior police officer here said.
Eid prayers elsewhere in the Valley ended peacefully.
A large number of devotees prayed at the Hazratbal and other mosques and Eidgahs in the Valley.
For security reasons, many ministers and senior civil and police officers offered prayers at the district police lines mosque here at 6.30 a.m.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police on Sunday issued an advisory, asking VIPs to offer Eid prayers only at secure places and to avoid public places.
Muslims from all walks of life started making a beeline to Eidgahs (prayer ground) or mosques for offering Eid prayers as a thanksgiving for the month-long fasting of Ramazan.
The biggest gathering was witnessed at Hazratbal shrine where more than 50,000 faithful offered prayers, officials said.
They said the second largest gathering was held at the Eidgah in the old city in which more than 40,000 people participated.
Big gatherings were also reported from Sonawar and Soura Shrines in the heart of the city, they said, adding that similar gatherings were held at all districts headquarters and major towns of the Valley.
Barring a few incidents of stone-pelting after the prayers, the situation in the Valley remained peaceful.
Clashes between protestors and law enforcing agencies were reported from Sopore, Anantnag, Rajpora, Shopian towns and Safakadal area of the city.
Five police officers, including a DySP, and several civilians were injured during clashes in Anantnag town of south Kashmir on Monday.
An official said that clashes erupted between protesters and government forces after massive pro-freedom sloganeering in Janglat Mandi and Achajipora localities of the town after Eid prayers concluded at Hanfia and Ahli Hadith eidgahs.
He said five police officers including DySP Ashfaq Alam and DO Janglat Mandi Gowhar Ahmad were injured during the clashes.
Several civilians were also injured in the clashes, added the official.
Reports said that clashes have spread to Sherpora and Achhabal Adda as well.
The authorities have placed top separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under house arrest, fearing that their presence at large Eid gatherings could spark violence, the officials said.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has been taken into preventive custody and lodged at Central Jail, Srinagar. (With Agency inputs)