Kashmir shuts; Separatists caged
Restrictions in old Srinagar; Clashes in Hajin
A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir Friday to mark August 15 even as strict restrictions remained in place in several old Srinagar areas.
Majority of separatist leaders including the Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik and Hurriyat Conference JK leader Shabir Shah were confined to their houses. The general strike, called by the separatist leaders, evoked strong response across the Valley, especially in the summer capital Srinagar. All commercial establishments were closed while roads wore a deserted look. Only police and paramilitary CRPF men, wearing riot-gear, were seen deployed on roads and the only vehicles plying were those belonging to government forces. A few private vehicles, however, were spotted on the city roads in the afternoon.
RESTRICTIONS IN SRINAGAR
Strict restrictions remained in place in areas falling under five police stations in old Srinagar including Khanyar, Safakadal, Maharaj Ganj, Rainwari and Nowhatta. In view of the curbs, no congregational Friday prayers were held at the historic Jamia Masjid here.
Besides Mirwaiz, Geelani, Malik and Shah, other separatist leaders/activists were either taken into preventive custody or placed under house arrest. From Hurriyat (G), Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ayaz Akbar, Mehrajudin, Altaf Ahmed and others were placed under house detention and from the Hurriyat (M) camp, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Saleem Geelani, Advocate Shahidul Islam, and Javaid Mir were put under house arrest. Hilal Ahmed War and Mukhtar Waza were lodged in Police Station Kothibagh and Police Station Sherbag, Islamabad (Anantnag), respectively.
CLASHES IN HAJIN
Meanwhile, violent clashes were reported from Hajin area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora town between youth and forces. According to witnesses, youths resorted to stone-pelting soon after Friday prayers. “Last evening, cops in civvies fired pepper gas shells in the main market at Hajin without any provocation. That time, shopkeepers were closing down their shops,” said a local, Muhammad Amin.
On Friday afternoon, he said, youth after offering the congregational prayers, took to roads and shouted anti-India slogans following which the forces resorted to teargas shelling on them.
A report in the evening said pellets hit Ishfaq Ahmad Parray son of Mukhtar Ahmad in his chest and neck. He was referred to a hospital in Srinagar.
“The patient is stable. But he was referred to Srinagar as he had developed some swelling,” Block Medical Officer Hajin, Tariq Ahmad, told Greater Kashmir.
‘OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS PASS OFF PEACEFULLY’
Pertinently, the main function related to August 15 held at the Bakshi Stadium here, where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah unfurled the tri-colour and took the salute, passed off peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident anywhere in Kashmir. “All functions held in Kashmir with regard to August 15 passed off peacefully. The day was peaceful,” IGP Kashmir Range, Abdul Gani Mir, told Greater Kashmir.
Mobile phones jammed
Mobile phone services were once again jammed for at least two-and-a-half hours across Kashmir “for security reasons.” Internet services, except the BSNL broadband, also remained disconnected during this period.