Malik sent to Central Jail; Jamia Masjid locked and Mirwaiz put under house arrest
Srinagar: Protests erupted in several parts of Kashmir after government forces thwarted attempted marches towards UN observers’ office in Srinagar on Friday.
Resistance groups had called for a march to the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOGIP) office at Sonwar in Srinagar to press India to return mortal remains of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, who had been hanged and buried at Tihar Jail. Both are hailed as icons of Kashmiri freedom struggle.
All roads leading to the UN office were sealed off by the police and paramilitary forces with barbed wire. Authorities had imposed curfew-like restrictions in areas like Maisuma, Safakadal, Maharaj Gunj, Nowhatta and Khanyar.
Clashes were reported in parts of Srinagar city like Soura and Safa Kadal where the government forces had to resort to tear-gas shelling to disperse protesters. Protests were also reported from Palhallan and Sopore areas in North Kashmir where youth assembled after Friday protests, according to eye-witnesses, and clashed with forces.
At least six persons were injured in clashes between protesters and government forces in Sopore and Palhallan Pattan. Scores of youth assembled near Jamia Masjid in Sopore after prayers and attempted to march towards the main chowk. The police and paramilitary forces used tear-gas smoke to disperse them.
Two persons received minor injuries after clashes erupted in Palhalan while protesters staged demonstration and attempted to block the Srinagar-Muzafarrabad highway.
People were not allowed to take part in the weekly congregational prayers at Jama Masjid, the central mosque in Srinagar, leaving locals disappointed.
Eyewitnesses said the doors to the mosque were locked down and barbed wires were laid around the mosque by the authorities to bar people from entering the mosque. A heavy contingent of forces was deployed in the mosque’s vicinity.
Pro-freedom leader from the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who leads the Friday prayers at the central mosque, was put under house arrest ahead of the march.
The mandatory prayers in the mosque were barred for the first time this year. Earlier, last year after the valley was plunged into a civil unrest for six months, Friday prayers in Jama Masjid were banned for more than four months till November 18.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s (JKLF) Yasin Malik was arrested in Sarai Bala locality after he attempted to lead a march towards city center Lal Chowk
“After he was taken into custody, Malik was lodged at Kothibagh from where he was shifted to Srinagar central jail on a remand till February 15,” a party spokesperson said.
The JKLF leader had taken out a protest rally in the locality in which protesters carried placards and photos of Maqbool Butt—a day ahead of his death anniversary — amid slogans demanding his mortal remains back.
The police also arrested Ummat e Islami chairman Qazi Ahmed Yasir on Thursday from a meeting while making arrangements for a blood camp and a rally ahead of Maqbool Bhat’s death anniversary, a party spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added the police did not allow hospital authorities to make arrangements for blood donation camp on Friday. “Police also confiscated the material for the blood donation camp including banners,” he said.
Boy killed post Afzal hanging remembered
Meanwhile, locals in Watergam area of Rafiabad, Baramulla remembered 13-year-old youth Ubaid Mushtaq on his fourth death anniversary.
Ubaid was allegedly killed by government forces on February 10, 2013, a day after Afzal Guru was hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
Ubaid, a class 9 student in government middle school Watergam, had succumbed to bullet injuries after he was rushed to Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital.
The police had registered an FIR against the CRPF personnel for killing the youth. The family had also declined compensation from the government.