Govt curbs foil AAC rally, hit normal life in Srinagar

Srinagar: Normal life in this summer capital of Kashmir was thrown out of gear Friday due to the curbs imposed by the government to scuttle the rally called by Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to celebrate the golden jubilee of his parent organization Awami Action Committee (AAC). Meanwhile, a senior police officer was among three people injured in clashes.
Last month, Mirwaiz had announced from the pulpit of historic Jamia Masjid that he would kick start 50th foundation day celebrations of AAC from Municipal Park Srinagar on June 20. He had urged the party supporters from all parts of Kashmir to converge at Jamia Masjid from where a march would be taken towards Municipal Park Srinagar to “bring alive the memories” of June 20, 1964, the foundation day of AAC.
However, sensing trouble, the authorities imposed restrictions in the areas falling under jurisdiction of police stations of Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Khanyar and Rainawari to thwart the scheduled rally. The authorities also placed Mirwaiz under house arrest.
Reports said that curfew-like restrictions were imposed in the Old City, considered the bastion of Mirwaiz, to foil the AAC march. Donning riot gear and carrying assault rifles, contingents of CRPF troopers and policemen were deployed at Khanyar, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Naid Kadal, Kawdara, Safa Kadal, Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Rainawari and other areas to prevent the people from participating in the rally.
The forces had also sealed most of the road links to the downtown with barricades and spools of razor wire. Armoured vehicles were also put on standby to meet any protests.
Municipal Park, the main venue of Mirwaiz’s scheduled rally, was also placed under siege by the forces. No one was allowed to move towards the park by the cops.
In rest of the city, all shops, offices, business establishments, educational institutes and petrol pumps remained closed. Government offices and banks also witnessed thin attendance as most of the marketplaces including the busy Residency Road, Regal Chowk, and Lal Chowk presented a deserted look. While the public traffic was off, private vehicles were seen plying on the otherwise busy roads of this city.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out between protesters and forces at several parts of the downtown. At Nowshera, groups of youth took to streets after offering congregational Friday prayers and staged pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. Besides chanting slogans, the protesters, mostly youth, also pelted upon troopers and cops with stoned and rocks.
Clashes also broke out in Nowhatta, Bohri Kadal, Naid Kadal, Hawal, Gojwara, Khwaja Bazaar and Nawab Bazaar on late Friday evening when the deployments were returning to their camps after the daylong clampdown. Forces burst teargas canisters to disperse the stone pelting youth. The clashes continued for some time.
Meanwhile, police sources told Kashmir Reader that two people, including Station House Officer (SHO) Nowhatta were injured during the clashes. The SHO was injured after he was hit by a stone.
In Sambora, on the outskirts of Srinaga,r a cop identified as Satvir Kumar of 15th battalion IRP was injured when the police vehicle (JK02AL- 7055) he was travelling in turned turtle after coming under attack from the stone pelters. The injured cop was removed to hospital for treatment.
“The police van was on way to Zewan from Poonch when it came under heavy stone pelting. It turned turtle causing injuries to a constable,” sources added.