Srinagar: Authorities on Monday clamped restrictions in parts of this summer capital of J&K and placed several pro-freedom leaders under detention to thwart any protests amidst a shutdown called by various pro-freedom groups against the landing of Indian troops on this day in the Valley in 1947.
All shops, offices, petrol pumps, banks, commercial establishments remained shut, while public transport was affected due to the strike, reports and eyewitnesses said.
While public transport was largely off the roads, private vehicles were seen plying normally on all the major roads and highway of this summer capital.
Early morning, contingents of CRPF and policemen were deployed around Maharaj Gunj, Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta and Safa Kadal areas of the downtown, where curfews-like restrictions were imposed to foil protests.
“Most of the roads leading to downtown were sealed off with barricades and spools of razor wire. At several places, armoured vehicles were used to block the roads,” the eyewitnesses said.
Similar security arrangements were also put in place in uptown areas amid fears of anti-India protests. In Lal Chowk, Batamaloo, Magarmal Bagh, Dalgate and other parts of the uptown, CRPF men and cops in full riot gear maintained tight vigil to thwart any attempt of people to stage pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations.
Government forces were also on toes in Maisuma, which houses the headquarters of JKLF.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, chairmen of parallel Hurriyat factions, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Zafar Akber Bhat, Aga Syed Hassan, and several pro-freedom leaders were placed under house arrest to prevent them from taking out pro-Azadi rallies. Engineer Hilal Ahmad War and Hakim Abdur Rashid were detained in police stations, reports said.
Meanwhile, despite stringent security measures, groups of youth took to streets at Maiusma and staged pro-freedom and anti-India protests. Chanting slogans, the protesters tried to march towards the city centre. However, the cops intercepted them.
“This led to clashes in the area. The cops and the youth exchanged brickbats. No one was hurt in the clashes that continued for several hours,” the eyewitnesses said.
Clashes were also reported from Baramulla and Bandipora districts of north Kashmir.
Eyewitnesses said that groups of youth assembled at Khanpora and Deewanbagh bridges in Baramulla town and held anti-India demonstrations to denounce the landing of Indian soldiers around 67 years ago. Besides chanting slogans, the protesters also pelted upon rocks and stones on the forces triggering off pitched battles. The ding-dong clashes continued for some time. However, no reports of injury to anyone were received.
Protests and forces also exchanged stones in the volatile Palhalan town along the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway. Forces, eyewitnesses said, burst teargas canisters after failing to disperse protesters with baton charge. No one was injured in the clashes.
Clashes were also reported from Papchan area of the neighbouring Bandipora district, where groups of youth engaged forces in pitched battles.
Meanwhile, reports of shutdown have also been received from Shopian, Pulwama and Anantnag districts of south Kashmir.
Extending gratitude to the people for observing shutdown, most pro-freedom leaders condemned the acts of the government and said that oppression cannot break the resolve of the leadership to carry the ongoing “freedom struggle” to its logical end.