SRINAGAR - Amid high drama, detained separatist leader Yasin Malik was freed from his house here by a mob before being held by the police again Friday, even as nearly 80 people were injured on the fifth day of violent protests across the Kashmir Valley over the alleged rape and murder of two women.
Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), had been held under house arrest for the past week.
As fresh trouble erupted Friday, a large number of people protesting against the deaths of the women in south Kashmir’s Shopian town a week ago marched to Malik’s uptown Maisuma house in Srinagar shouting slogans.
In no time, Malik was brought out of the house. Perched on the shoulders of a few, the JKLF chief then led the demonstrators shouting anti-India slogans. But the police soon took him into custody along with a few of his supporters.
As angry young men took to the streets hurtling stones at the security forces after Friday prayers in several towns, the police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel used teargas and batons to disperse them, a police official said.
Over 80 people, including 10 policemen, were wounded in clashes across Kashmir and hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani extended his protest shutdown call by two more days.
Protests began immediately after the Friday prayers in summer capital Srinagar, south Kashmir’s Shopian and other valley towns as hundreds of people, shouting slogans, took to the streets.
Fierce clashes erupted as hundreds of villagers from adjoining areas made attempts to march to Shopian town, where two women were allegedly raped and murdered last Friday by the security forces.
Police sources here said 70 people, including 20 women, were injured in protests and resultant clashes Friday.
Tension is running high in Srinagar following the death of a 25-year old youth Thursday after he was hit by a teargas shell during protests in the Barzalla locality.
There were reports of protests after Friday prayers in Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara, Anantnag, Pulwama, Tral and other towns.
For the fifth day in running, life across the Kashmir Valley was paralysed due to the shutdown called by Geelani against the rape and murder of the two women. Shops, businesses, government offices, banks and educational institutions were shut and vehicles went off the roads.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has vowed to “dig out the truth” about the death of the women.
He said the victims, Neloofar and Asiya, were “like his sisters” and he as a “brother feels the pain of the tragedy that has befallen the family”.
The chief minister said he would not rest till he finds out “the truth behind their mysterious deaths”.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, meanwhile, asked state government to take “the first essential step of registering an FIR on the rape-cum-murder case of Shopian women if it was serious in finding out the truth”.
“Unless police registers the case and takes up investigation seriously, no amount of assurances would work,” Mehbooba Mufti said in a statement.
The ruling National Conference said the PDP was “playing politics over the tragedy”.