Boat rally steers clear of boots on ground

By Zia-ul-Islam   
ANANTNAG: After government forces broke up ‘freedom roadshows’ over the past few days by lobbing tearsmoke shells and firing pellet ammunition directly at the rallies, people of two Anantnag villages on Wednesday took out a boat rally in the Jhelum river.
Scores of people from Uranhall and Guri villages assembled near the Jhelum bank in the morning and took out a boat rally. As the rally began, hundreds of people including men, women and children waved green flags and raised pro-freedom slogans, witnesses said. The boats were rowed up to six km in the river. They moved back from Pazalpora in Bijbehara.
Locals said that they organised the boat rally to avoid contact with the troops on roads. “Since forces have prevented car and bike rallies for the past several days, so we decided to rally for Azadi on the Jhelum waters, without any confrontation with the forces,” a local said.
Last week, troops directly fired pellets and tearsmoke shells at a car rally in DH Pora area of Kulgam, injuring at least 130 people.
In the volatile Quimoo township of Kulgam district on Wednesday, a huge unity congregation was organised. Thousands of people from different villages of the area came in vehicles and two-wheelers to attend the unity conference. Representatives from different religious sects addressed the gathering of about 40,000 people. All the speakers urged Kashmiris to stay united and disciplined for the cause of freedom. Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani addressed the gathering by telephone.
Members of the Sikh community, witnesses said, also participated in the rally and shared the stage with other speakers.
In the volatile Dadsara village of Tral, a huge pro-freedom rally was organised in which thousands of people participated. Despite the police imposing restrictions in the town and sealing all the major entry points, thousands of people from many villages attended the rally. At the venue, witnesses said, pictures of militants from the village killed so far had been pasted.
The call for Dadsara Chalo had been given by locals.

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