Old City, Maisuma placed under siege on Martyrs Day

Srinagar: The Old City of Srinagar and Maisuma in the Uptown have been placed under siege by the authorities to scuttle the proposed programme of commemorating Martyrs Day jointly by the Azadi camp.

Since the dawn, contingents of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and policemen appeared in Khanyar, Gojwara, Saraf Kadal, Kawdara, Nawa Kadal, Nawab Bazar, and Safa Kadal and other areas of the downtown to scuttle the planned march to the shrine of Naqshbandh Sahab (RA), where the martyrs of 1931 lie buried, witnesses told Kashmir Reader.

On this day in 1931, 22 Kashmiris were massacred by the forces of the last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh outside Srinagar’s Central Jail here. The victims were protesting against the prosecution of Abdul Qadeer, who had raised voice against the atrocities committed by the autocratic rulers on local Muslims. Every year, this day is officially observed as Martyrs’ Day.

Witnesses said that wearing riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, the government forces enforced undeclared curfew in the downtown areas. The forces had also laid a siege around the historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta, the venue of the proposed rally by the leaders of parallel Hurriyat Conference factions Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik, who were placed under house arrest a day earlier.

The forces, witnesses said, didn’t allow the locals to venture out of their houses. Forces had sealed off all roads, lanes and by lanes leading to the Old City with barricades and spools of concertina wire. Besides, the shrine of Naqshbandh Sahab (RA), was turned into a garrison.

“The high raise buildings adjacent to the Martyrs’ graveyard were occupied by the forces, to keep a close watch on the movement of suspicious persons. Forces had also placed mobile bunkers at important crossings to prevent the march called by pro-freedom groups,” witnesses said.

Restrictions were also imposed in Maisuma, considered to be the bastion of JKLF. All the lanes leading to the volatile locality were choked with razor wire to foil any pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations.