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7 injured in protests; Mehbooba, Mirwaiz condemn use of force (Lead)

Srinagar, Jan 13 (IANS) Protesters and security forces clashed on Sunday during the funeral procession of a militant commander in Shopian in Jammu and Kashmir, leaving seven civilians injured and drawing condemnation from former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer.

Stone-pelting youths clashed with the security forces in Sugan village, from which hailed Al-Badr commander Zeenatul Islam alias Zeenat alias Usman, who was killed in a gunfight with the security forces on Saturday in Kulgam district along with his associate.

His associate was identified as Shakeel Ahmad Dar. Both were wanted for their complicity in a series of crimes including attacks on security establishments.

Zeenat was affiliated with Al-Badr and was earlier arrested. After his release, he joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and recently he rejoined Al-Badr.

After their deaths, their bodies were handed over to their families.

The security forces on Sunday fired in the air to disperse the protesters who resorted to violence while marching to attend the funeral of the militant commander, a police officer said.

Police said the injured protesters, including one who suffered a bullet wound, had been shifted to a Srinagar hospital where his condition was stated to be critical.

Mehbooba Mufti said in a statement that aerial firing aimed at stopping mourners would lead to further alienation.

“Reports of aerial firing … are very unfortunate and disturbing. Such interference in the religious affairs is undesirable and may backfire, leading to further anger and alienation.”

Mirwaiz Umer said on his Twitter page: “Use of brutal force on the martyr’s funeral is not only un-Islamic and undemocratic but contrary to human values.”

Authorities suspended rail services passing through south Kashmir as a precaution. Mobile Internet services were also suspended in Kulgam and Shopian districts on Saturday.


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