25 injured as forces fire in air to disperse curfew violators

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Srinagar, Aug 24 (UNI) About 25 people were injured when security forces burst teargas shells to disperse thousands of people who defied curfew restrictions in the city and other areas in the valley today.

Official sources said hundreds of people today violated curfew restrictions in the down town and Shar-e-Khas and took to streets raising ''pro-freedom'' and anti-government slogans.

When the processionists tried to march towards the historic Jamia masjid, the security forces burst teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse them.

The processionists continued pelting stones from narrow lanes and bylanes on the security forces.

The clashes among the agitators and the forces were going on when the reports last came in.

A resident from Rajouri Kadal said dozens of tear-smoke shells were fired by the security forces. ''We cannot sit in our houses because of teargas smoke,'' he said adding women and children suffered the most.

Official sources said window panes of about 50 houses were damaged allegedly by the security forces at Chattabal after people of the area tried to offer prayers in a local mosque.

The historic Lal Chowk, which was venue of tomorrow's meeting of the Coordination Committee (CC), spearheading the present agitation in the Kashmir valley, was sealed from all sides. The security forces, wearing bullet-proof jackets and holding automatic weapons, were seen deployed in the area and all roads were closed with barbed wire. Bullet-proof vehicles have also been parked in the middle of the roads.

After the Eidgah march, the CC has given a call for 'Lal Chowk chalo' tomorrow.

A report from central Kashmir district of Badgam said police burst teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the processionists who violated curfew restriction at Beerwah.

People were refusing to return to their homes,it said adding that people from the nearby areas were also heading towards Beerwah.

The security forces also burst teargas shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse the violators of curfew at Bijbehara, the home town of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Reports of curfew violation were also received from several other areas in the valley.

UNI BAS RC BST1502

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