Journalists and civilians inside the mosque injured when forces fired pellets and tear gas shells
“I have never seen such scenes in Jamia Masjid before,” says Photo Journalist Ahmer Khan who was hit by pellets and hurt his foot.
Forces were deployed in the area before the prayers had even started
The Jamia Masjid has been closed for further prayers as there is blood all over the place which resulted due to firing of pellets, said a Hurriyat (M) spokesman in a statement. “The mosque needs to be cleaned first,” he added.
The statement strongly condemned the use of brute force and firing of pellets on the people of all ages who had come from far off places to offer Friday prayers and listen to the sermon of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and to seek the blessings of Almighty in the sacred month of Ramazan.
An APHC spokesman said ahead of the Friday prayers, entire Nowhatta and Jamia Masjid was turned into a military fortress with huge deployment of police and paramilitary forces ‘with the sole aim of disrupting peace and to damage the sanctity of central mosque, which is a spiritual centre of Lakhs of Kashmiris.’
The Hurriyat spokesman denounced firing of hundreds of lethal pellets, tear gas and pava shells on peaceful worshipers injuring dozens including shopkeepers of Nowhatta area.
Moreover, the journalists who were inside the mosque to cover the sermon of the Mirwaiz alleged that they were deliberately targeted by the forces. Many scribes too were injured in the forces action.
Photo Journalist Ahmer Khan who was outside the mosque covering protests told Free Press Kashmir that pellets were directly fired at them however they escaped unhurt as the pellets didn’t penetrate their body.
“It was complete mayhem there. I have never seen such scenes in the area before. Journalists and Nimazis (people who were praying) were targeted directly. There was a lot of blood inside the mosque too. The entire floor was covered,” Khan said.
Earlier, when thousands were getting ready to offer the Friday prayers, armed forces could be seen surrounding the Masjid and alleys leading to it.
After the sermon given by the Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in which social issues and the apprehension of Major Gogoi with a girl in a hotel were raised, peace in the mosque turned into chaos when forces fired teargas shells and pellets in and outside the mosque.
While many young boys got their pellets removed with the help of other men surrounding them, most of the injured were inside the Masjid. Announcement about the injuring of more than 20 was made repeatedly through the jamia loudspeaker. They alleged that police were not allowing shifting of injured to hospital by closing all exits.