Srinagar: Kashmir Valley remained shut on Saturday in protest against New Delhi and state government’s plan to settle migrant Kashmiri Pandits in separate settlements.
The strike call was given by Hurriyats and the JKLF. The United Jehad Council, Bar Association and various other groups had supported the call.
All shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed. Traffic was off the roads. However a few private vehicles were seen plying on various routes. Government and semi-government offices registered thin attendance.
Maisuma, the bastion of JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik, whose detention on Friday triggered violent protests, was besieged by the CRPF troopers and police, witnesses said. The forces had blocked the roads near Akhara Building and Gaw Kadal bridge with razor wire to foil anti-India protests in the area.
Stringent security measures were also put in place in most parts of the downtown here. Hundreds of troopers and policemen in riot gear maintained strict vigil around the volatile places of downtown, including Nowhatta, Gojwara, Saraf Kadal, Kawdara, and Rajouri Kadal.
However, despite heightened security, groups of youth hit streets at Saraf Kadal and pelted the camp of CRPF 44 batallion with stones.
“The troopers also threw stones at the boys. The pitched battles continued till late evening. However, no one was hurt,” Arshid Ahmad Wani, a witness told Kashmir Reader.
Clashes between angry protesters and forces were also reported from Chinkral Mohalla Habba Kadal. The clashes, witnesses said, broke out when groups of youth threw stones at the forces when they were returning to their camps in evening.
Reports from Baramulla said that a contingent of CRPF men was deployed in the town to prevent the people from holding anti-India protests, even as all commercial establishments remained closed in response to the call given of pro-freedom groups.
However, protests were reported from the volatile Palhalan town of the district, where youth hit the streets this morning and engaged the forces in ding-dong battles.
Reports of shutdown against the proposed settlements have also been received from south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama districts.
—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmed in Baramulla