Restrictions Continue To Cripple Kashmir; PSA Slapped On Shah; Geelani Arrested; Malik Under House-Arrest
Srinagar, Mar 15: For the second consecutive day Friday, entire Kashmir reeled under strict curfew while sporadic clashes were reported from some places against the killing of a Srinagar youth by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The government didn’t again allow congregational Friday prayers at major mosques, including Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid.
Separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah has been booked under Public Safety Act and Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani was arrested today, while several other separatist leaders, including chairman of JKLF Muhammad Yasin Malik, continue to remain under house arrest.
Entire Srinagar district was put under strict curfew for second day today and people in old city and some other parts were not allowed to offer morning prayers.
Reports said since morning, heavy contingents of police and CRPF men were seen patrolling the streets in old Srinagar. The forces blocked the roads with razor wire and armored vehicles. Barricades were also erected at several places in old Srinagar to restrict the movement of people and transport.
The residents of most areas of old Srinagar said that the forces did not allow them to offer morning prayers.
Reports said congregational Friday prayers were not allowed at the historic Jamia Masjid and some other main mosques in Srinagar. The forces, reports added, closed all gates of Jamia Masjid and erected barricades. “We were not allowed to come out to offer congregational Friday prayers,” Abdul Rashid, a Nowhatta resident, said.
Reports from Hazratbal said around 800 people offered congregational Friday prayers at Hazratbal shrine.
In the curfew bound civil-lines areas hundreds of forces personnel were deployed to thwart any protest demonstration.
Budgam district of central Kashmir also remained under curfew with hundreds of forces personnel deployed to thwart any protest demonstration.
Reports said that CRPF men and police went berserk at Mochwa Chadura as they smashed window panes of houses after youth pelted stones on them after Friday prayers. The clashes lasted for an hour and forces lobbed tear smoke shells on the protesters to disperse them. Residents raised slogans against forces for the ransacking of houses.
Reports reaching here from Ganderbal district of central Kashmir said that protests and clashes were witnessed at several places. Reports of protests and stone pelting incidents poured in from Kurhama area of Lar Tehsil and Manasbal. Clashes were also witnessed in Malshahibagh and Nagbal areas of Ganderbal Tehsil. Reports of protests were also received from main Kangan.
Protesting youth hurled stones at the forces deployed in Manasbal. Locals told Greater Kashmir that the window panes of the residential houses of Ali Muhammad Laharwal, Naseer Ahmad Laherwal, Ali Muhammad Dar and Muhammad Ramzan Laharwal of Kondbal were smashed by the forces while chasing the stone pelters.
In the afternoon, clashes broke out between protesting youth and forces at Nagbal in Ganderbal. According to police, Assistant Sub Inspector Muhammad Abdullah received minor injuries in the clash as a stone hit his head. Reports of peaceful protests after Friday prayers came in from Saloora Ganderbal.
Reports said after Friday prayers, youth assembled outside Central Jamia Masjid Kangan and raised pro-freedom and pro-Islamic slogans and later dispersed peacefully.
A group of youth, reports said, appeared near Sindh Bridge Kangan and started shouting pro-freedom slogans. They pelted stones on forces deployed in the area. The forces burst tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors. The pitched battles continued for some time.
Police maintained that they exercised maximum restraint while dealing with the situation. The deployment of forces remained in strength at almost all places to thwart protest demonstrations.
A strict curfew was clamped in all major towns of South Kashmir for the second consecutive day even as protests and clashes erupted in peripheries.
In Islamabad (Anantnag) town, police and paramilitary forces armed with sophisticated weapons and wearing riot gears were manning the streets of the town. Witnesses said that forces had blocked all the entry points leading to town by erecting concertina wires and the lanes and by lanes had been sealed.
“Nobody was allowed to venture out of their houses and whosoever tried to do so was beaten to pulp,” locals said. They added that people couldn’t even get baby food and milk.
Reports said that people were not allowed to offer prayers in many mosques. “No prayers could be held in centrally located mosques,” residents said.
In Iqbalabad area of Islamabad town, reports said that a youth was critically injured after he was detained by the paramilitary forces of a local CRPF camp and thrashed mercilessly.
“The CRPF men chased the local youth who were coming out of the local mosque after offering Friday prayers and while most of them managed to give police a slip, a youth namely Muhammad Ishaq Pandit son of Ghulam Rasool Pandit who had already an injured leg couldn’t run,” the residents told Greater Kashmir.
They said that the CRPF men pounced on Ishaq and while mercilessly beating him took him along. “Ishaq suffered critical injuries and was later handed over by the CRPF men to the police and admitted in district hospital Islamabad where he is undergoing treatment. Curfew was also strictly enforced in Bijbehara town.
In Kulgam district curfew was strictly enforced in Kulgam, Kaimoh and Khudwani towns. Clashes and protests were however reported in Kaimoh, Khudwani and Redwani.
In Pulwama town forces were deployed in strength to enforce restrictions. Restrictions were also imposed in Rajpora, Pampore, Awantipora, Kakpora and Tral towns of the district.
However, reports of stone-pelting poured in from Tral town. “A peaceful procession was carried out after Friday prayers, however clashes erupted between the forces and protesters when the former tried to intercept them,” eyewitnesses said.
In Shopian, violent protests amid restrictions were witnessed in Gagran, Bonna Bazar and Malik Mohalla. “The police and the CRPF personnel resorted to tear smoke shells to disperse the protesting youth,” eyewitnesses said.
In the Tral area of south Kashmir, youth took out a huge procession after Friday prayers from the shrine of Hazrat Ameer Kabir (RA) and tried to march to the bus stand. Youth pelted stones at the main branch of J&K Bank after they reportedly spotted a policeman filming the protest from the branch. The police swung into action and were successful in dispersing the protests.
MLA Pulwama Muhammad Khalil Bandh expressed serious concern over the “mass arrests of innocent youth generally school children in Pulwama.” He alleged that these arrests were made during night raids in Chatpora, Washbug, Dangerpora, Dalipora, Malikpora and other parts. He criticized the ruling party that their “mis-governance has left people like orphans and agencies have free hand in arrest and torture of budding youth.”
“The security agencies have instigated a fresh cycle of violence at the behest of puppet Government. The state Government has nothing to show on the development front and keeps people engaged in war like situation,” Bandh said. He demanded immediate release of arrested youth and end to the ‘atrocities on people.’
Kupwara and other towns of the district also witnessed strict curfew Friday. The other towns where curfew remained imposed included Handwara, Lantage, Trehgam, Kralpora and Lalpora in Lolab.
In other areas of the district complete shutdown was observed. Most of the shops and business establishments remained closed while traffic was off the roads.
Reports said that barbed wires were placed at several road junctions to restrict the movement of people and transport.
A complete strike was observed in other towns like Sogam, Vilgam and Panzgam. After Friday prayers, reports of protests were received from Trehgam where protesters marched through the town to denounce the killing of Srinagar youth.
Langate town also witnessed protests after Friday prayers and a police officer was injured in clashes.
Reports said that people in hundreds took to streets in Langate to protest youth’s killing. Reports said the protestors were intercepted by the forces, triggering clashes. The clashes left SHO of the area injured.
Huge contingents of Police and CRPF were deployed in main Bandipora town to thwart any protests. People from nearby areas were not allowed to offer congregational Friday prayers in Main Jamia Masjid Bandipora, however some locals offered prayers in the mosque.
Reports said that protests were held in main Hajin town after Friday prayers. People took to roads and tried to march towards Sumbal, however police and CRPF intercepted them near hospital. Protesters engaged police and CRPF personnel in stone pelting which continues for about three hours. Reports said that police later lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors.
Peaceful protests were held in Naidkhai, Saderkoot and Sumbal areas of Bandipora.
Only people residing in the vicinity of Jamia Masijd Sumbal, Hajin, Shadipora and Naidkhai were allowed to offer prayers while most of the people were forced to offer prayers in local mosques.
Prayers were held at Noor Masjid, Peer Masjid, Aloosa Masjid, Iqbal Masjid, Kaloosa Jamia Masjid, Nathpora Masjid, Watpora Masjid and Nag Masjid. However, only modest gatherings of people were seen during the prayers.
Reports from Baramulla and Sopore said that strict curfew was imposed in both the towns.
PEOPLE ALLEGE EXCESSES BY CRPF:
People from dozens of areas of the valley alleged that para-military CRPF men indulged in excesses and beat people without any reason.
The residents of Shopian district said that after stray incidents of stone pelting CRPF personnel went on a rampage and beat the inmates to pulp while damaging dozens of vehicles. Residents of Jan Mohallah Shopian said that CRPF personnel forced their entry into dozens of houses and not only beat people but also damaged the windowpanes of parked vehicles.
Hundreds of people came out from their houses and raised anti-CRPF slogans. At Hyderpora, Hajin, Naidkhai, Kadipora, Idgah and other places similar tales were narrated by people.
SHAH BOOKED,GEELANI ARRESTED:
President Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Shabir Ahmad Shah has been booked under PSA and shifted to Kotbalwal Jail Jammu.
Shah was arrested during the intervening night of February 8 and 9, just before Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar Jail Delhi.
Shah is among dozens of separatist leaders and activists who were arrested in the wake of Afzal Guru hanging. Presently there are dozens of leaders languishing in central jail Srinagar who were arrested before or after the hanging of Afzal. They include Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Nayeem Ahmad Khan of National Front and Ayaz Akbar of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
A spokesman of DFP has condemned the shifting of Shah to Jammu. Calling it as an act of “political revenge” the spokesman said that such acts will never affect the determination of Shabir Shah.
Condemning the act, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, who is under house arrest since March 10, termed it a clear frustration of rulers. “From the day of hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru, rulers have resorted to state terrorism of worst kind and a reign of terror especially against pro-freedom camp has been unleashed by the so called democrats. These repressive measures against the pro freedom political leaders and activists clearly show that it is the pro freedom leaders who represent the real sentiments and aspirations of the people of Jammu Kashmir and because New Delhi and its allies in the state have not been able to break the will of people, they have started these undemocratic measures,” Malik said in a statement.
He has also denounced the house arrest of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syeda Asiya Andrabi, Agha Syed Hassan Budgami and continued imprisonment of political leaders and activists like Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Ghulam Nabi Zaki, Naeem Ahmad Khan, Ghulam Muhammad Nagoo, Akbar Ayaz, M Rafiq Ganai, Ghulam Rasool Malik and Fehmida Sofi. He has also condemned the ‘arrest of thousands of young boys’ all across Kashmir valley, alleging that police and other forces demand ransom from the families of these arrested innocents for their release.
Police Friday afternoon arrested Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani outside his residence and foiled his attempt to visit the family of Muhammad Afzal Guru.
As Geelani stepped outside his home defying curfew restrictions and house arrest, a contingent of police already present there detained him and whisked him away in a police vehicle. Geelani is currently under detention in police post Humhama.