Shutdown, Protests Mark Friday

Javid Amin, Journalist based in Kashmir (J&K). Printer, Publisher, Editor of "Weekly Shohrat - Kashmir" (Print Edition) as well owner of online news portals www.KashmirPost.org / www.KashmirInFocus.com. Aimed at putting Kashmir and its issues on the global platform. An extensively traveled person enjoys writing.

4 Youth Injured In Pulwama,Baramulla Clashes
Srinagar/Pulwama, Mar 1: Four youths were injured when clashes broke out between protestors and forces at different places across Kashmir on Friday while the valley observed a shutdown to demand the mortal remains of Muhammad Afzal Guru and Muhammad Maqbool Bhat. The call for protests and shutdown was given by Mutahida Majlis-i-Mashawarat (MMM), an amalgam of various separatist groups in Kashmir.

SOUTH KASHMIR:
Massive protests and clashes erupted at two places in Pulwama district of south Kashmir Friday evening in which one person was injured in forces’ action. The clashes erupted in Begumbagh Kakpora and Naraman areas. Eyewitness said that groups of youth at both places took to streets and held strong protest demonstrations. Raising pro-freedom slogans, they were demanding the bodies of Guru and Bhat.
Witnesses said that huge contingents of forces intercepted the protesting youth in Begumbagh and resorted to heavy teargas shelling and cane-charge. They said that pitched battles continued for some time and a youth identified as Yasir Ahmad Rather was injured.
Reports said a tear gas shell hit Yasir in the head, however police denied the same.
The residents of area alleged that forces ransacked their houses and broke the windowpanes.
In Naraman area, witness said that forces intercepted a peaceful protest rally and resorted to teargas shelling. The clashes were going on when this report was filed.
However, SP Pulwama Amit Kumar told Greater Kashmir that nobody was injured and no forces personnel entered the houses of the residents. “Some youth tried to take out a protest and they pelted stones on forces,” he said and added there was minor injury to a CRPF personnel. “He was hit by a stone.”
People in Shopian district of south Kashmir also held a massive protests rally after the Friday prayers. The rally was telephonically addressed by Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani.
Witnesses said that soon after the Friday prayers, hundreds of people took out a peaceful protest rally that started from Jamia Masjid and culminated at Gole Chowk. The people were chanting pro-freedom slogans and later dispersed peacefully. They were demanding the body of Guru and Bhat. The demonstration was led by Hurriyat (G) district president Shakir Ahmad.
In all four districts of south Kashmir, a complete shutdown was observed on the MMM call. Shops, business establishments and offices remained closed while traffic was off the roads.
In Islamabad (Anantnag) town, police and paramilitary forces wearing riot gears and armed with sticks were deployed in strength to thwart any protests. The day passed off peacefully without any incident.
However, in Bijbehara town, as the police deployment was being withdrawn late in the evening, youth took to streets and pelted stones on the government forces near Padshahi Bagh who chased them away. “One of the youth while being chased away by the police and CRPF jumped into River Jhelum, however he was rescued by people immediately,” reports said.
However, SSP Islamabad (Anantnag), Ramesh Kumar Jala denied the reports of clashes. “There was nothing like this. Everything is normal,” the SSP said.
Kulgam, Kaimoh, Tral, Rajpora, Pampore and Awantipora also saw heavy deployment of government forces, however there were no reports of protests.

NORTH KASHMIR:
District Kupwara witnessed protests and shutdown on Friday. Shops and other businesses establishments were shut in Kupwara, Handwara, Trehgam, Vilgam, Kralpora and Lolab.
Most of the roads and streets presented a deserted look and public transport was off the roads.
Soon after Friday prayers, protests and clashes erupted at several places. Clashes between the people and forces were reported from Rigipora, Dudwan, Darzipora, Bypass, Bus Stand Kupwara and Trehgam. The protestors hurled stones on forces and police retaliated by resorting to lathi-charge. Later police arrested two youth from Kupwara town.
However, Superintendent of Police Kupwara, Muhammad Irshad said that situation in entire Kupwara district remained peaceful. “No untoward incident took place anywhere and there were no restrictions in any part of the district,” he said.
At least three youths were injured during clashes that erupted after Friday prayers in Baramulla town.
Witness said that clashes erupted between groups of youth and police at Tehsil Road and near Khanpora Bridge. During the clashes, three teenagers were injured. They have been identified as Abid Ahmad, Majid Majeed and Abid Hassan.
Doctors at Baramulla hospital told Greater Kashmir that one of the youth has received injury in his eye while the other two have received injuries in leg and arm due to pellets fired by police.
Entire Baramulla district witnessed a complete shutdown and all shops and other business establishments were closed. Traffic was off the roads and the government offices witnessed thin attendance.
Sopore Tehsil of Baramulla district also witnessed complete shutdown amid huge deployment of forces to thwart any protest demonstrations. Shops and other business establishments were closed while traffic was off the roads.
Entire Bandipora district also witnessed shutdown and protests on the call of MMM. Shops, offices and business establishment remained closed while traffic remained off the roads.
After Friday prayers, people took out peaceful rallies at main Bandipora, Hajin, Sadrkoot, Naidkhai, Nowgam and other areas demanding return of the mortal remains of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru.
People in Hajin were allowed to offer Friday prayers in the main Jamia Masjid after two weeks. People in the area had threatened massive agitation if Friday prayers were not allowed again.
In the main town Bandipora, shops, business establishments, fuel stations and some offices remained shut while skeletal public transport plied on the roads. Government offices and a few other institutions remained opened. Soon after the Friday prayers, people held a peaceful protest rally.

CENTRAL KASHMIR:
People in central districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal held protest demonstrations and observed shutdown to demand the body of Muhammad Afzal Guru.
Life in most parts of Srinagar was paralyzed while groups of youth took to streets at some places after congregational Friday prayers. Shops and other business establishments remained closed while as government offices witnessed a thin attendance because of non-availability of public transport.
To foil any protest demonstrations, the authorities had deployed police and CRPF in all parts of Srinagar.
Soon after Friday prayers, groups of youth took to streets in Kawdara, Babademb and Nowhatta. However joint contingents of police and CRPF dispersed them.
Reports from central district of Budgam said that a complete shutdown was observed and people at several places held peaceful protests. They were chanting pro-freedom slogans and demanding the body of Afzal Guru. Peaceful protests were reportedly held in Budgam and Chrar-i-Sharief towns.
Ganderbal district also witnessed a complete shutdown in response to MMM strike call. Shops and other business establishments were closed while as traffic was off the roads. Most of the roads wore a deserted look.
Authorities deployed huge contingents of police and CRPF to thwart any protest demonstration. Heavy deployment of forces was also witnessed at different places on Leh highway, particularly in Kangan town.