Clashes reported in many areas; school burnt down; Minister's house attacked; FIRs filed against Mirwaiz

Over 24 people, including 8 policemen, were injured when protesters clashed with security forces in the Kashmir Valley on Sunday, even as curfew was imposed in Srinagar and other major towns following Saturday's violent protests.

Three FIRs were registered against moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for inciting violence and arson on Saturday.

A youth, who was injured in police firing in Palhalan on September 6, died on Sunday, taking the death toll, since violence erupted in the Valley on June 11, to 70.

At Kralgund Handwara, protesters burnt down the Government Middle School and the records kept inside.

Heavy contingents of police and the CRPF were deployed to enforce strict curfew. Even curfew passes were not considered.

At many places people defied curfew and took to the streets.

In Damhal area of Anantnag, stones were hurled at the house of Education Minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed. The Minister was present there, and the guards opened fire injuring at least 15 people. One of them is said to be in a critical condition.

The Minister was shifted to Srinagar under heavy police escort. Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir zone, S.M. Sahai said the situation was tense, but under control.

A police spokesman said miscreants pelted stones at the Pothkhah-Sopore police post. At Boatman Colony-Bemina in Srinagar, protesters threw stones at security forces, who retaliated and chased away the mob.

Eight policemen were injured when protesters resorted to heavy stone pelting at Azad Gunj-Baramulla. A CRPF bunker was attacked with a petrol bomb.

Stone pelting incidents were also reported from Khanpora in Baramulla, Lethpora, Drangbal Pampore, and at Sabzi Mundi Soura and Gowkadal in Srinagar. At Gow-kadal one Samir Ahmad Bhat was injured.

The Mirwaiz was held directly responsible for the violence and arson in Srinagar on Saturday. Several sections have been included in the FIRs filed against him and some of these are non-bailable. However, sources said his arrest at this stage was unlikely.

This is the first time that an FIR was registered against the Mirwaiz since he joined active politics in May 1990 following the gunning down of his father, Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also not been formally put behind bars, though once he courted arrest and was in a police station for a brief period.

“I will not be cowed down by the cases registered against me, as they have no basis,” he told The Hindu. “I am ready to go to jail.” The Mirwaiz said he had not made any provocative speech at the Eidgah, as alleged.

He rebuffed the government claim that he had sought permission from the government to proceed to Lal Chowk after Eid prayers.

“Would a government that does not allow me and the people to offer Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid allow me to lead a procession to Lal Chowk?” the Mirwaiz said.

On arson, he said that “as per eyewitnesses, the fire started from the top of the building mysteriously and no mob was seen around it. How a building that is fenced by a 20-foot-high brick wall and razor wire should start burning raises serious doubts that need to be impartially investigated.”

A police spokesman said that at Eidgah the Mirwaiz's speech was highly inflammatory and anti-national.

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