Jamia Masjid sealed, Yasin Malik arrested and Mirwaiz detained
Srinagar: Protests against the unabated incidents of braid-chopping of women and girls were held across the Valley after the congregational prayers on Friday, some of them turning into clashes with police and paramilitary forces. The joint resistance leadership (JRL) of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for “state-wide” protests today against the braid-chopping incidents.
The government in a bid to foil protests imposed strict restrictions in parts of Srinagar and put the Valley’s chief cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under house arrest. People were also barred from attending Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid, which was completely sealed from all sides by government forces.
Geelani was restricted to his home at Hyderpora where two armoured vehicles remained stationed outside his main gate.
Mohammad Yasin Malik was arrested and lodged at Kothi Bagh police station.
Locals said that additional troops were deployed in Nowhatta, where the Jamia mosque is situated, and “no one was allowed to move towards Jamia Masjid.”
Despite such restrictions, protests were held at several places in Srinagar. A protest march was taken out from Abi Guzar to Press Enclave, with scores of pro-freedom activists participating in it. Police sealed the Abi Guzar road and didn’t allow the protesters to reach the Clock Tower in Lal Chowk. The protesters assembled at Press Enclave and raised anti-government and anti-India slogans. They demanded action against those who were cutting braids of women and girls and blamed “Indian agencies” for it.
As the protesters tried to march towards Residency Road, police swung into action and detained several protesters.
In Soura area, eyewitnesses said, people held protests in Anchar and raised slogans such as, “Manzoor nahi, manzoor nahi; mulzimo ko pesh karo (Unacceptable, unacceptable; bring the culprits forward).”
At Hyderpora, activists of the Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat held protests led by Bashir Qureshi and Syed Imtiyaz Hyder.
Stone-pelting was reported from Natipora and Nowgam areas, where government forces fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters. A youth was reportedly wounded after being hit by pellets at Natipora.
Clashes also broke out in different parts of Anantnag district. Witnesses said that youths took to the roads and pelted government troops with stones at Reshi Bazar, Mattan Chowk and Cheeni Chowk.
Traders in these areas said that police fired some teargas shells inside their shops. Shopkeepers lowered their shutters and observed a shutdown for the day.
The authorities suspended mobile internet in Srinagar to prevent “rumour mongering over braid-chopping incidents”. The services were restored later in the evening.
The government also suspended train services in the afternoon in view of the call for protests given by the resistance leadership. “We suspended all trains across the Kashmir Valley in the afternoon,” a senior railway official said.
He added that all trains operated as scheduled in the first part of the day. “We operated all trains on Srinagar-Budgam route in central Kashmir and to Baramulla in the north on Friday,” he said. “Similarly, trains ran on Srinagar-Anantnag-Qazigund route in south Kashmir up to Banihal in Jammu region.”