Srinagar: Parts of capital Srinagar witnessed intensity in street protests overnight. At places, security forces swung bamboo sticks and fired teargas and pepper gas canisters to disperse irate crowds and stone-pelting mobs, resulting in more than two dozen non-fatal injuries, witnesses said on Sunday.  

The relatives and neighbours of a 72-year-old resident of Srinagar’s Braripora locality said that he died of “suffocation” as the air was filled with teargas and its acrid smell during such a clash on Saturday evening. However, the claim was denied by the authorities.

Seventeen people were treated at Srinagar’s main Sri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital but all of them were sent home by Sunday morning as the injuries suffered by them were of “superficial” nature, the hospital sources said.

Meanwhile, 2G mobile internet was “temporarily disconnected” in five districts of Jammu on Sunday, a day after the services were restored, even as authorities cautioned people against rumours and maintained the situation was peaceful in the region.

J&K government spokesman Rohit Kansal confirmed clashes took places in Srinagar areas but blamed the incidents on “hooligans and miscreants”. Mr Kansal said at a daily briefing in the evening that the process of easing of prohibitory orders and providing relaxations were provided in fifty police station areas as against 35 on Saturday. He said that duration in the relaxation was also increased from six to eight hours.

He also claimed that only two persons sustained “minor” injuries in these incidents. Asked if mobile internet service in Jammu has been withdrawn again, he said that it was due to some technical snag that the facility got disrupted.

“No untoward incident was reported from the areas where relaxation was provided. Traffic including public transport plied and shopkeepers opened their businesses,” he said.

He said that it was the endeavour of the government to restore all the landlines to their full functionality as soon as possible and the BSNL officers and technicians were working continuously to restore working of exchanges across the Valley.

He further said that the government would attempt to restore infrastructure and developmental works when the overall situation improves further. He said that over 190 primary schools will reopen in Srinagar whereas the government offices would also witness “full functionality” on Monday.

“In areas where relaxations (in restrictions) were provided we have no reports of any untoward incidents. There are, however, very minor reports of two to three disturbances in areas where relaxations were not provided. These were dealt with by local security agencies” (sic).

On Sunday morning, security forces in riot gear were seen enforcing restrictions firmly in areas which had erupted on Saturday night. At Kawadara in Central Srinagar, a crowd of about fifteen youth standing at a distance in a dark alley booed at the security personnel as the latter were patrolling the main Nallahmar road.

This correspondent found people erecting barricades on roads, lanes and bylanes in some city residential areas, including at or around Soura, Babademb and Narwara, seemingly to block entry of the security forces’ vehicles. A couple of days ago, JCBs were used to create burrows on the approach roads into Anchar, a periphery of Soura. The security forces had reacted strongly after a huge procession of men and women had emerged of this area on August 9, days after the Centre’s stripped J&K of its special status and split the state into two Union Territories.

The rest of the city and most other parts of the Valley remained peaceful and there was increased movement of private vehicles on the roads in these area and along the roads connecting Srinagar with district headquarters on Sunday. Jammu-Srinagar highway was also through for all kind of vehicular traffic, the officials said.

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Some shops, mainly groceries and pharmacies, and fuel stations were also open in Srinagar areas which have been relatively peaceful. At places including Dal Gate and Durga Nag, wooden carts laden with apples and other fresh fruits had been placed on the rim of roads by sellers.