Srinagar: Curfew-like restrictions continued for the fourth consecutive day Friday in Kupwara town of north Kashmir, while a complete shutdown was observed in rest of the Valley in response to the call given by Hurriyat Conference (G) over the killing of seven alleged militants in Lolab forests by Army last week.
Here in the capital city, shops, other business establishments and petrol pumps remained closed while public traffic was off the roads, reports and eyewitnesses said. Government offices and banks also witnessed a thin attendance as most of the marketplaces including the busy Residency Road, Regal Chowk and Lal Chowk presented a deserted look.
A contingent of CRPF troopers and policemen were deployed at sensitive places in the city to thwart protests against the Lolab killings. Donning riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, forces maintained tight vigil on the movement of the civilians.
In Maisuma, which houses the headquarters of JKLF, forces were on their toes to thwart the protest programme announced by the pro-independence group against recent verdict by Army court-martial on Pathribal fake encounter.
Minor clashes were also reported from several parts of the downtown including Rajouri Kadal and Gojwara.
The Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Geelani had called for shutdown and protests on Friday over the ‘mysterious gunfight’ in Lolab forests last Monday in which Army says seven foreign militants belonging to Lashker-e-Toiba were killed.
A day after the killings, scores of protesters damaged four CRPF vehicles, three police vans, and two bunkers inside the police station Lalpora (Kupwara). The police station also suffered damage in the attack. The protesters had tried to force their entry into the police station to see the bodies of the seven slain men following rumours that they were civilians. Fearing situation might go out of hands, the district administration imposed curfew in the area. The authorities also handed over bodies of the slain militants to the local Auqaf committee to cool the tempers. Later, thousands of people had participated in the funeral prayers of the seven militants before their burial in the martyrs’ graveyard Lalpora.
Meanwhile, curfew-like restrictions continued for the fourth running day Friday in main town Kupwara and Lalpora, Lolab, where violent protests over the killing of seven alleged militants had left over a dozen people, including officers of police and paramilitaries injured.
Anticipating trouble in Lalpora and Dardpora villages of north Kashmir, police had summoned the Panchayat members and village elders on Thursday and asked them to offer congregational prayers in the respective mosques.
“The police had also sought help from the people to maintain law and order in the areas in the aftermath of violent protests,” a village elder, who insisted not to be named, told Kashmir Reader.
However, after the Friday prayers, groups of youth took to streets at Retnaag and Lalpora and clashed with government forces. The forces had to fire warning shots to disperse the stone throwing youth. Anti-India protests were also reported from Iqbal Market in the main town.
In the neighbouring Baramulla district, CRPF troopers and police had blocked four of the five vital bridges, Cement Bridge, Azad Gunj Bridge, Khanpora Bridge, Gular Park and SRTC foot Bridges, to prevent people from staging protests. Similar restrictions were also put in place in the volatile Palhallan area.
In Hajin and Naidkhai areas of Bandipora district, sporadic clashes broke out after the Friday prayers. The youth fought ding-dong battles with the forces that were deployed in huge numbers to maintain law and order.
Reports of protests and clashes were also received from Lazibal area of Anantnag and Gagran area of Shopian district in south Kashmir.
Meanwhile, a handout issued by police here said that barring stray incidents of stone pelting from Rajouri Kadal locality of Srinagar and Naid Khai and Hajin areas of Bandipora, the situation remained normal throughout the valley.
“There are no reports of injury to anyone, so far,” police spokesman said.