Valley shuts in protest against braid-chopping

Valley shuts in protest against braid-chopping

On JRL’s call for ‘civil curfew’, all markets stay closed, public transport off the roads

Srinagar: In protest against the “criminal silence and incompetence” of the government in stopping incidents of braid-chopping, a complete shutdown was observed from north to south Kashmir, with schools, colleges, universities, business establishments all remaining closed and public as well as private transport off the roads.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had called for a ‘civil curfew’ on Saturday to protest against braid-chopping incidents.

In Srinagar, the government imposed strict restrictions in areas under seven police stations in the old city, forcing people to stay indoors. A youth was injured after he was hit in his shoulder by a bullet fired by government forces in Nowgam area. He is being treated at SMHS Hospital and his condition is said to be stable.

The injured youth, identified as Arsalan, was among scores of youth who were holding protests near the railway station, where government forces opened fire and lobbed teargas shells after the protesters pelted them with stones.

The injured youth was shifted to a nearby community health centre (CHC) from where he was shifted to SMHS Hospital.

A large number of government forces personnel were deployed in downtown areas of Nowhatta, MR Gunj, Rainawari, Khanyar, Safa Kadal, Maisuma and Kralkhud. Concertina wires were laid at different intersections to restrict the movement of people.

At Ahmednagar locality in the outskirts of Srinagar city, the braid of a woman was cut off by unidentified persons, triggering protests in the area.

In Lal Chowk and adjoining areas, thin movement of transport was observed during the day, with all business establishments staying closed.

While calling for the shutdown, the JRL had warned, “The attacks on women are now becoming more alarming and dangerous. If not halted immediately, it will take an ugly turn and may consume more human lives.”

Reports of a complete shutdown were received from Budgam, Baramulla and Kupwara districts. Reports said that in Sopore, a complete shutdown was observed on the call of the resistance leadership. A minor stone-pelting incident was reported from Arampora area of Sopore.

A complete shutdown was also reportedly observed in Handwara, Sangrama, Pattan, and Baramulla, where traffic movement remained suspended. “No shop opened,” witnesses said. “There is resentment in people as the government has failed to nab the culprits.”

Reports from Bandipora said that a fresh braid-chopping incident sparked protests, after the hair of a 35-year-old woman was cut in Nowpora locality of the district.

Locals said that some unknown person attacked the woman near the main gate of her house, after making her unconscious.

“She was going to unlock the main gate of the house around 6:30am when she was attacked by an unknown person. After chopping her hair, the person fled. He also stole her golden earring,” a local said.

Reports of a complete shutdown also came in from Pulwama, Anantnag Kulgam and Shopian districts of south Kashmir.

All examinations scheduled on Saturday at Kashmir University were postponed. Train services were also suspended for “security reasons”.

“We have suspended all trains in the valley for security reasons,” a senior railway official said. An advisory had been received from police to suspend all trains on Saturday, he added.

The government had already put the resistance leadership under arrest. An activist of the Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference said that several of its members were detained on Friday night in police station Budgam.

“Muhammad Yaseen Attai, Bashir Ahmad Bhat and Imtiyaz Hyder were detained in police station Budgam,” he said. “Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai was detained in his Baghat residence.”

“We had to postpone the executive council meet which was scheduled to be held today,” the Hurriyat Conference (G) member said. “It will be held now on Sunday at Hyderpora and will start at 11am.”

A member of the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference said that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continues to remain under house arrest at his Nigeen residence since Thursday evening.