SRINAGAR: Defying restrictions, agitated protesters clashed with government forces post Friday prayers in parts of Kashmir valley where curfew and separatist-backed shutdown entered the 42nd day on Friday.

Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were arrested by police on Friday as they tried to march towards central Kashmir's Budgam to pay tributes to whom they call "martyrs" at Aripanthan village.

Following their protest programme, which extended the shutdown call till August 25, the conjoined separatist leadership had urged people to march towards the central Kashmir village in protest against the civilian killings.

However, strict curfew and restrictions were imposed by the authorities to foil the Hurriyat's call with heightened deployment of police and paramilitary forces made in ten districts of the valley including the capital Srinagar.

In the city's downtown areas, clashes broke out between agitated protesters and government forces even as massive protests were held in the alley against the civilian killings.

Clashes were also reported from parts of north Kashmir districts, including Baramulla, Bandipora, Sopore, Palhallan, Anantnag and Kulgam during which agitated youths pelted stones at forces who retaliated by firing teargas and pellets.

"Some protesters suffered injuries during clashes in Baramulla, Srinagar, Palhalan and Bandipora who have been evacuated to hospital. Clashes are going on in these areas," a senior police officer said.

Last night, a grenade was hurled at the house of National Conference leader and former MLA from south Kashmir, Muhammad Rafiq Sheikh. at around 10 pm. The former lawmaker escaped the attack unscathed.

In a bid to break the cycle of protests and shutdown, the J&K government has ordered all its employees to report to work, a move which has evoked sharp criticism from the employees' unions.

"The government hasn't been able to connect one district with another. In such a situation where even the national highway is not safe, how can the government expect employees to turn up for work," Employees Joint Action Committee (Q) vice-president, Fayaz Shabnum.

Last night, an ambulance driver on way to the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital hospital from Kangan, was hit in the arm when CRPF men reportedly opened fire at him in Safa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar. In a measure of course correction, the errant CRPF personnel was suspended on Friday.

(Photo Basit Zargar)