Kashmir remains shut, woman died of tear-gas suffocation

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A woman died allegedly due to suffocation caused by intense teargas shelling by government forces in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, local reports said.

The development came as Indian–controlled Kashmir observed a complete shutdown for the second consecutive day to mourn the killing of eight civilians in action by forces on the polling day on Sunday, reports and witnesses said.

Youth fought pitched battles with the forces at many places across Kashmir, they said.

A woman died due to suffocation allegedly caused by intense teargas shelling by government forces in Tahab village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.

Witnesses said Shameema Akther wife of Nazir Ahmed was busy at her home when she started coughing. “She complained of chest pain. And within minutes, she collapsed and fainted,” they said. “The area was witnessing massive clashes and forces were using teargas shells to disperse the protestors.”

Locals said the victim was immediately rushed to District Hospital where doctors declared her as brought dead.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, SSP Pulwama Rayees Bhat said: “We also came to know through locals about her death. But the cause of death is not known. Let the medical report come. Then only we would be able to say how she died.”

One of the family members of the deceased alleged that she felt suffocation due to a thick cover of smoke that enveloped her house. “We thought she has fainted, but she had died,” he said.

As the word about woman’s death spread, massive protests erupted at Tahab and other adjoining areas. Protesters accused the government forces of resorting to indiscriminate use of ‘Pava’ and teargas shells.

Locals also said that forces ransacked many residential houses and also broke the windowpanes.

Normal life remained crippled across Kashmir for the second straight day Tuesday in wake of strike call given by the joint resistance leadership—Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik— to mourn the eight civilian killings by forces on polling day in Central Kashmir on Sunday.

All schools, colleges and commercial establishments remained closed while few private vehicles could be seen plying on roads. Reports said intense clashes between youth and government forces broke out at Nowhatta, Rainwari, Kaka Sarai, Kathidarwaza, Safa Kadal, Gojwara and Sekidafar, Batamaloo, Qamarwari and Bemina areas  in Srinagar.

“Patients and attendants at emergency ward of SMHS hospital complained of irritation due to frequent use of ‘pava’ shells by forces at Kaka Sarai area,” locals said.

Witnesses said youth clashed with forces personnel at Rawalpora, Wanabal and Rangreth areas on Srinagar outskirts.  “Police used Pava shells and stun grenades to disperse the protesters who offered stiff resistance and retaliated with heavy stone-pelting. The clashes were on till late evening,” they added.

Reports from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district said an eerie calm prevailed in the entire district. However, Aripanthan village near Beerwah witnessed clashes between forces and youth. “The clashes erupted after the government forces picked up some youth in the area. As the word spread youth came out on streets and started pelting stones. Force personnel retailed with teargas shelling to disperse the protesters. However, protesters engaged the forces and fought pitched battles with them. Demonstrators were demanding immediate release of the arrested youth.”

 “One the detained youths is elder brother of Farooq Ahmed, who sustained bullet injury in 2016 uprising and is paralyzed. He was driving a tractor when forces detained him,” locals said.

Meanwhile, thousands of mourners visited the residences of youth killed in forces’ firing on Sunday.

Posters featuring slain youth Amir’s photographs with pro-freedom slogans inscribed on it were also pasted in Dadompora area of Chadoora, witnesses said. Many pro-freedom activists visited the families of slain youth.

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