Srinagar: Normal life was affected across Kashmir as Hurriyat (G) sponsored strike against Masarat Alam’s detention under PSA evoked near total response.
All shops, business establishments, schools and colleges, petrol pumps remained closed. The shutdown also affected the public transport even as light motor vehicles were only seen plying on the otherwise busy roads of this summer capital. Many government offices also witnessed thin attendance in view of the strike.
Bhat was arrested on April 18, three weeks after he was released after 53-month-long detention during which he was slapped with the PSA on six times. He was booked for sedition and waging war against the India and shifted to Jammu’s Kot Balwal Jail.
Here in Srinagar, stringent security measures were put in place to thwart any attempt of people to hold anti-India demonstrations, witnesses said. Carrying riot gear, the CRPF troopers and police maintained strict vigil at Nowhatta, where violent protests erupted after prayers on Friday leaving many injured. Forces were also alert in Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Kawdara, and other localities of the downtown.
However, despite heightened security arrangements, youth assembled at Saraf Kadal and pelted stones at the picket of CRPF 44 battalion, witnesses said. The forces used batons to chase away the stone throwing youth. The clashes continued for sometime
“Angry protesters also pelted upon government forces with stones at Habba Kadal and Kawdara localities,” Arif Bashir, a witness said. However, nobody sustained injuries.
In Qaimoh town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, protesters attacked police station with stones and rocks. The forces, witnesses said, responded by lobbing numerous teargas canisters.
Reports from Baramulla said that a contingent of CRPF men was deployed in the town to scuttle any protests, even as business 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 and fought pitched battles with the forces.
Reports of shutdown against Masrat Alam’s detention have also been received from south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts.
—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmed in Baramulla.