Srinagar: Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in Srinagar while a complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir on August 15, India’s Independence Day.
Since morning, hundreds of police and paramilitary men, in riot gear, were deployed in Srinagar to thwart any untoward incident.
The troops erected checkpoints and laid concertina wires in both uptown and downtown areas of Srinagar to restrict public and vehicular movement. The routes going to Bakshi Stadium, the venue of the official August 15 celebrations, were all sealed.
The government also snapped mobile internet and telephone services while the official event at Bakshi Stadium was in progress. Mobile internet was restored in late afternoon.
The joint resistance leadership had given a call to observe the day as “Black Day”.
Shops and business establishments in Srinagar remained closed while vehicular traffic was off the roads.
At Bakshi Stadium, apart from hundreds of troops, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were pressed into service for surveillance purposes. The security agencies also put Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to monitor the movement of people.
In old Srinagar, heavy deployment of troops was made at many places, including at Khanyar, Nowhatta, Bohri Kadal, Hawal, Rajouri Kadal, and Eidgah.
Late in the afternoon, clashes broke out in Safakadal area. Government troops barged into houses in Malik Angan locality and beat the inmates, including women, and broke windowpanes, eyewitnesses said.
Meanwhile, more than 200 activists of the BJP’s youth wing, who were on a ‘Tiranga yatra’ to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk, were detained by the police as a precautionary measure.
They were taken to different police stations in Srinagar and kept there in custody, a police official said.
While some activists were detained last night, several others were taken into custody in the morning from Abi Guzar area.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah termed the detention of the activists as a “fixed match”.
“True definition of a fixed match. BJP government in J&K detains BJP office-bearers going out to hoist the National Flag,” he said in a tweet.
In north Kashmir, clashes were reported from Hajin town in Bandipora district. According to witnesses, youths pelted stones at the Army Goodwill School and the nearby police station. The government forces resorted to teargas shelling to disperse the youth, witnesses said.
Protests were also reported from Saderkoot Bala village, where locals alleged that police wrecked the stock of several shopkeepers, besides damaging several vehicles parked on the road. They further alleged that the forces damaged windowpanes of the Primary Health Center in the village. Local sources said that the police did this after their cavalcade came under stone-pelting while it was on its way to Bandipora.