Srinagar: Curfew-like restrictions were imposed on Sunday in most parts of Kashmir Valley to prevent protests to mark the first death anniversary of Mohammad Afzal Guru who was hanged in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 9 last year.
Almost all major towns in the Valley were put under a siege with heavy deployment of paramilitary CRPF troopers and police personnel aimed at thwarting any protests, eyewitnesses and reports said.
Section 144 of CrPC, which bans assembly of four or more persons, was imposed in several districts, including Srinagar, while major roads were blocked by razor wire and barricades, they said.
Mobile internet services, too, were snapped in the Valley on Sunday. Internet services on mobile phones and plug-in devices were suspended early Sunday although broadband connections through landline phones were functioning as usual. The mobile internet service was restored later in the evening.
In this summer capital of the state, the restrictions were more intense in Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Kawdara, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal, Chattabal, Nawab Bazaar, and other areas of downtown. Curfew was also strictly enforced in uptown Maisuma which houses the headquarters of JKLF.
Soon after daybreak, police vehicles fitted with public address systems made announcements in many parts of the capital city about the imposition of restrictions in many areas, residents said.
Many people blamed the government forces for highhandedness. “My brother-in-law passed away 40 days (ago), today was his ‘chalum’. At Rawalpora crossing, we were stopped and turned back; my wife burst into tears, shocked at inability to get to her late brother’s place. I took bye-pass route, reached Pantha Chowk, took left towards Sonwar, via Gupkar reached Nishat, onto foreshore and then to Habak crossing—we made it. I fail to understand how could a 60+ couple affect the security situation?” said well-known columnist and medico Dr Javed Iqbal.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, strict curfew was imposed in Sopore, Palhalan and old town Baramulla to foil any attempt of people to take to streets and hold protests. Seer Jageer, the native village of Guru in Sopore town, had been sealed from Sunday morning.
Despite the restrictions, stone-pelting took place in some parts of north Kashmir including Hadipora and Ladora areas of Sopore. Groups of angry youth pelted stones on government forces who used tear smoke shells and batons to quell the protests, reports said.
All the five major five bridges of Baramulla, which connect volatile old town area with civil lines, were blocked with concertina wires and hundreds of cops and CRPF troopers were deployed in the area, eyewitnesses said.
Reports of curfew-like restrictions were received from other parts of the Valley including Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Budgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Kupwara
Guru was hanged and buried inside Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 9, 2013. The pro-freedom camp, including both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF, had issued a call for a three-day shutdown till February 11, 2014 which marks the death anniversary of JKLF founder Mohammed Maqbool Bhat. Bhat too was hanged and buried inside Tihar Jail 20 years ago.
Hurriyat Conference (G) chief Syed Ali Geelani, who returned home to the Valley from New Delhi on Saturday, was put under house arrest soon after his arrival here.—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmed in Baramulla and PTI