40 injured in Kashmir violence after Afzal Guru hanging

Strict Curfew Today / J&K On Edge, Forces On Guard

Strict curfew today: Govt
Srinagar, Feb 14: The Government has decided to clamp strict curfew on Friday in entire valley to prevent the assembly of people in Martyrs Graveyard, Eidgah, Srinagar for offering funeral prayers in absentia for Muhammad Afzal Guru. The call for offering the prayers has been given by Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

“There will be complete curfew tomorrow,” District Magistrate Srinagar, Baseer Ahmad Khan told Greater Kashmir adding the measure has been taken to avoid any law and order problem.
Director General of Police Ashok Prasad told Greater Kashmir that every step has been taken to avoid any law and order problem. “Geelani has asked the people to march towards Eidgah. There are apprehensions of law and order and we have taken every measure to avoid that,” Prasad said, adding that situation across the valley is under control. “We relaxed curfew at most of places and there were no law and order problem.”

Meanwhile, a high level situation assessment meeting was held here at Police Control Room (PCR) Thursday evening. The strategy to thwart the Geelani’s call was discussed during the meeting.

J&K on edge, forces on guard
NEW DELHI: Although strict curfew is expected to be clamped in all trouble-prone areas of Kashmir, especially in Srinagar, on Friday, security forces are keeping their fingers crossed for what they believe will be the first full-blown expression of anger over Afzal Guru’s hanging in the Valley.

Government has dispatched 25 companies of Border Security Force (BSF) to assist CRPF, which is the main force maintaining law and order along with Jammu & Kashmir Police. The BSF contingent, however, has been sent as an emergency force that will be put into action only if things go out of hand, said sources.

There are inputs of possible large-scale stir in the Valley on Friday, especially in Srinagar, Sopore and Baramulla. While Syed Ali Shah Geelani has given a call for all in the Valley to gather at Idgah in Srinagar on Friday, there are reports of a march being organized to go to Sopore. “We are expecting incidents of large-scale stone-pelting on Friday,” said a security official.

Paying heed to the threat perception, a high-level meeting of security agencies was held in Srinagar on Thursday, where it was decided to keep deployment of forces heavy and enforce strict curfew. Security forces fear that if people are allowed to protest on Friday, the situation could go out of hand.

History has been witness that Fridays see accentuated protests in the Valley, especially in Srinagar. Security forces hope that increased security will keep people inside home. There is also the calculation that the anger may be ebbing a bit in the Valley, with Thursday being a much quieter day. There were hardly any protests across the Valley with clashes or injuries reported and curfew being relaxed in large parts of Kashmir.

Sources, however, say Friday could still be different as there are already calls for organized protests, which if evoke spontaneous response could throw the Valley’s normal life out of gear.

Though security forces have been given strict instruction to exercise restraint and ensure there are no casualties, forces say it is easier said than done. “When protests like the ones in 2010 happen, it is difficult to reign in jawans. After all he is not going to hold back if he sees his own life in danger,” said an official supervising operations in Kashmir.

Sources say even if Guru’s hanging does not stir up much, civilian casualties at this time may make the entire Valley erupt. “It is not easy to ensure that. But if there are deaths in Srinagar, it will be a nightmare,” added the source.

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