Protests In Bandipora; Police Says Situation Peaceful
Srinagar, Feb 20: Life across Kashmir valley remained paralyzed on the first day of three-day fresh strike called by Hurriyat Conference (G) demanding return of the body of Muhammad Afzal Guru, who was executed in Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 9. Sporadic protests were also reported from some parts of the Valley.
In south Kashmir’s Shopian area, paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) allegedly thrashed two employees of Power Development Department (PDD).
Geelani has appealed people to observe civil curfew on Wednesday and Thursday to press for the return of Afzal’s body while JKLF has called for complete shutdown on Friday to protest his hanging.
Apprehending trouble, the authorities deployed heavy contingents of police and CRPF in all major towns of the valley. The authorities said that no untoward incident was reported from any part of the Valley and the day passed off peacefully.
The effect of strike was witnessed mostly in the rural areas of central, south and north Kashmir and reports said even the traffic was not plying in these areas. In Srinagar, complete shutdown was observed in Lal Chowk and adjacent areas of Maisuma, Maharjbazar and Gowkadal. The interior city also observed complete strike with minimal traffic plying on the road there. However, in uptown areas some shops were open and skeletal traffic was also plying on the roads. The attendance in government offices was also thin as employees could not reach their destinations because of non-availability of public transport.
In the Srinagar district of central Kashmir, normal life was paralyzed due to strike call. However, some localities in uptown of the city witnessed less effect of the strike call. Shops, other business establishments, courts, tuition centers remained closed in support of the strike call.
Public transport was also off the roads, however private vehicles were seen plying on some roads of Srinagar.
Most of the roads in Srinagar wore a deserted look and the forces in large numbers were witnessed patrolling the streets. The localities where strike had a partial impact include Sonwar Bazar, Shivpora, and posh colonies of Rajbagh, Hyderpora, Sanatnagar, Jawahir Nagar, Barzalla and Batwara.
To thwart any protest demonstration, the authorities had blocked most of the exit and entry points of old Srinagar. Armored vehicles were also deployed at some road junctions.
In the entire Srinagar the authorities had imposed restriction under Section 144CrPc.
In the Budgam and Ganderbal districts of central Kashmir, the strike paralyzed the normal life. Shops and other business establishments in these districts remained closed and transport was off the roads. Even the transport was not plying on the link roads in these districts.
Complete strike was observed in north Kashmir’s Bandipora, Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara and Handwara areas.
Reports reaching here from Bandipora said that all shops, business establishments and other commercial units remained closed in the entire district. Attendance in government offices and banks was also affected. Traffic remained off the roads and the town witnessed heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces.
Reports of mild stone pelting and protests were reported from main Bandipora town. Complete shutdown was observed in, Sumbal, Hajin, Naidkhai, Ajas, Aloosa, Kaloosa, Nadihal, Saderkoot and Safapora area of Bandipora.
Reports said that early in the morning scores of youth took to streets in main Bandipora Market. Raising pro-freedom slogans the protesting youth were demanding body of Afzal Guru. Protesting youth later pelted stones on private vehicles as well as some fruit vendors.
The youth erected barricades on most of the routes and burnt tyres on roads to halt the vehicular movement.
Complete shutdown was also observed in Sopore town of Baramulla district. Reports said that shops, other business establishments, and government offices remained closed. The traffic was off the roads.
Since Wednesday morning, most areas of Sopore witnessed heavy deployment of police and CRPF men to thwart any protest demonstration.
Complete shutdown was observed in most parts of Tangmarg town in Baramulla district. Shops and business establishment remained closed in the areas including Magam, Dhobiwan, Kunzar, Druroo, Chandilora and Tangmarg. The private and public transport remained suspended.
Life was also paralyzed in Kupwara and Handwara areas due to the strike. Shops, business establishments and fuel stations were closed due to the strike. The roads in Kupwara wore a deserted look as public and private transport remained off the roads. The roads in Trehgam, Kralpora and Langate wore a deserted look.
South Kashmir’s districts of Islamabad (Anantnag), Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam also observed a complete shutdown. Business establishments, government offices and educational institutions remained closed and traffic in these districts remained off the roads.
In Shopian district of south Kashmir, two employees of the Power Development Department (PDD) were grievously injured after they were allegedly roughed up by the CRPF personnel in Gagran village of the district.
The employees at a PDD workshop alleged that the CRPF personnel camping nearby went berserk and barged inside the workshop while chasing some youth, who were pelting stones at the camp.
“We were performing our duty in a workshop, meant for the maintenance of the transformers, when the CRPF personnel carrying bamboo sticks barged inside and ransacked everything that came their way,” employees told Greater Kashmir.
They said the CRPF men broke the furniture, window panes, smashed the vehicles and then ruthlessly thrashed the employees.
“Two of our colleagues suffered grievous injuries after being mercilessly beaten up by the CRPF personnel,” said the employees.
The injured PDD employees; Muhammad Yaseen Ahangar, son of Abdul Rashid Ahangar, resident of Pahnoo village in Shopian and Ghulam Muhammad Thoker, son of Muhammad Subhan Thoker, a resident of Haal, Gabarpora were immediately rushed to district hospital Shopian for treatment.
“The shoulder of Ahanger has got fractured while Yasin also has multiple injuries,” said a doctor attending them.
The employees said that the CRPF men also thrashed a driver and another employee who had come to deliver a transformer at the workshop.
Earlier, youth took to streets and pelted stones on CRPF camp posted in the area. The CRPF men chased the protesters. Later, the youth were reportedly arrested by the police.
In Shopian town a complete shutdown was observed with shops closed and traffic off the roads. Reports of complete shutdown were also received from Pulwama, Kulgam, Islamabad, Bijbehara, Tral, Rajpora, Awantipora, Kakapora and Pampore towns. Sporadic clashes reportedly occurred in Pampore town. In Islamabad town forces wearing riot gears and armed with sophisticated weapons were manning the lanes and by-lanes and the streets wore a deserted look.
Situation remained peaceful across the valley, a police spokesman said here adding that no incident of violence or stone-pelting was reported from any place.
The spokesman said that private traffic was plying normally while as public transport was partially plying in all parts of the valley.