Shutdown, protests mark R-Day in Kashmir

Shutdown, protests mark R-Day in Kashmir

Srinagar: Amid a complete shutdown in the Valley, the police and paramilitary soldiers used batons and fired teargas canisters to disperse protesters in a few parts of the Srinagar, where anti-India demonstrations were held on Monday as a mark of protest against India’s Republic Day celebrations.
All shops, offices, commercial establishments and petrol pumps remained closed in response to a strike call given by factions of Hurriyat Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and supported by United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella organisation of militant outfits, against organising R-Day celebrations in the state.
The roads were deserted and only the vehicles of soldiers and the police and pro-India politicians would pass by every now and then, eyewitnesses said.
Thousands of paramilitary CRPF troops and policemen armed with sophisticated weapons and riot gear guarded the deserted streets, lanes and by-lanes to prevent pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations.
Many roads leading to the downtown areas of Khanyar, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Naid Kadal, Kawdara, Safa Kadal, Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, and Rainawari had been blocked with barricades and razor wire.
Bakshi Stadium, the main venue of R-Day celebrations, where Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Rohit Kansal took the salute, was turned into a fortress by a three-tier security involving CRPF soldiers and the police. Besides the stadium, the police and CRPF had sealed off all the roads leading to the venue with barricades and spools of razor wire.
At some places, armoured vehicles had been stationed to prevent militant attacks. Forces had also occupied high-rise buildings in Haft Chinar, a locality in the vicinity of the Stadium.
Despite stringent security measures, violent clashes broke out in parts of the city when scores of youth pelted the forces, who were returning to their camps, with stones at Saraf Kadal, Rajour Kadal, Kawdara and other localities.
“At Kawdara, the clash was intense. The forces fired numerous teargas canisters after failing to disperse the protesters. The clash continued for quite some time,” said Abdul Majid, a resident of the area where scores of houses were set ablaze by CRPF troopers in the early 90s.
Clashes also broke out in Habba Kadal, where forces used chilly grenades to chase away the protesters. In Maisuma, the police burst a few tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters.