Srinagar: Friday prayers were not allowed at Srinagar’s central mosque, the Jamia Masjid, for the sixth consecutive week. The district administration also imposed restrictions in areas under four police stations in downtown Srinagar: Nowhatta, MR Gunj, Kralkhud, and Safakadal.
Residents of these areas said that the authorities imposed restrictions without any announcement on Thursday evening. “By early morning, large contingents of police and paramilitary forces were deployed in our area. They announced on loudspeakers that a curfew has been imposed,” said residents of Nowhatta area.
“The forces did not allow us to move out of our houses,” said residents of Safakadal.
Government forces sealed all roads including in the interiors of the old city to bar free public movement. They sealed all lanes and bylanes leading to the Jamia Masjid.
Hurriyat Conference chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, remains under house detention.
A senior government official said that the restrictions were imposed as a precautionary measure to prevent street protests.
A call for peaceful protests on Friday was given by the joint resistance leadership, to protest against the ruling of a military court that suspended the life sentence of five army troopers convicted for a fake encounter in Machhil, and against the arrests of seven resistance leaders by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Some protests and clashes occurred in parts of Srinagar and Sopore area of Baramulla. Clashes broke out in Safa Kadal area of old Srinagar after government forces beat up a local youth. Residents of Safa Kadal said that a youth earlier in the day had pelted stones at government troops travelling in vehicles. The troops, in retaliation, resorted to cane charging at the locals and allegedly beat up some shopkeepers.
Soon after, locals took to the streets to protest against the action.
“Youths clashed with forces and pelted them with stones. The troops fired teargas shells to disperse the stone-pelting youths,” said local sources.
Clashes in Sopore town broke out after Friday congregational prayers. Sources said that clashes erupted after troops prevented locals from taking out a march against the ruling of the military court in the Machhil fake encounter case.
Soon after Friday prayers, a group of youth assembled outside the Markazi Jamia Masjid and attempted to march towards the main chowk. Troops swung into action and foiled the protest march, triggering clashes.