SRINAGAR: A shutdown was observed across the Kashmir valley on Thursday in response to the call by Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference to protest against detention of youth and pro-freedom leaders who campaigned for a boycott of the Lok Sabha elections.
Here in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, shops, business establishments and educational institutions were shut, while government offices and banks recorded thin attendance, eyewitnesses and reports said.
Public transport was off the roads. However, private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were plying normally.
CRPF troopers and police were deployed in strength to thwart any protests in view of the call. Wearing riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, the forces maintained a tight vigil across the sensitive areas in old city and uptown areas. The forces had also erected barricades at certain places.
Reports of shutdown were received from other districts of the Valley.
In Baramulla, dozens of cops and troopers were deployed at all the five vital bridges Cement Bridge, Azad Gunj Bridge, Khanpora Bridge, Gulnar Park and SRTC foot Bridges to prevent any possible protests. The forces had also laid spools of razor wire to restrict the movement of civilians, even as all markets remained closed in response to the Hurriyat call. Similar scenes were witnessed in the neighbouring Sopore town, where forces remained on toes to foil protests.
A partial shutdown was also witnessed in the neighbouring Bandipora and Kupwara districts, with most of the shops and commercial establishments closed, while public transport was off the roads. Similar reports were received from Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts of south Kashmir.
Geelani had set a May 13 deadline for the administration to release youth detained during the parliamentary elections across the Valley. He had threatened to issue a protest programme if the government does not release them.
“If the state administration does not release the youth and revoke Public Safety Act against pro-freedom leaders and youth, then we will be forced to announce further protest programme after proper deliberations,” he had said.