Govt seals off Kashmir areas to foil Shopian march

Govt seals off Kashmir areas to foil Shopian march
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No Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid, Malik reaches Shopian; Geelani, Mirwaiz stopped

Nazima Sidiq / Raashid Hassan

Srinagar: The government on Friday foiled the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) call of Shopian Chalo by imposing strict restrictions and blocking roads leading to Shopian.
In Srinagar, restrictions were imposed in Srinagar’s Downtown and no Friday prayers were allowed at the City’s historic Jamia Masjid.
The JRL had called for the march to express sympathy and solidarity with the family members of the civilians killed in forces firing in different villages of the south Kashmir district. Three students were killed in army firing at Ganowpora last Saturday, another civilian was killed during an encounter at Choiegund-Adoo village on 24 January while the mother of an 11-month-old girl was killed during an encounter in Batmaran-Wanpora on 19 December of 2017. Two ladies, including the sister of one of the militants slain in the Adoo encounter, were also critically injured in the forces firing.
In Shopian town on Friday, no one was allowed to even move on the main roads. All entry and exit points were sealed with a massive deployment of forces and their bunkers.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik managed to reach Shopian and enter the Jamia Masjid early in the day. Around 200 people also managed to enter the grand mosque to attend Friday’s congregational prayers. Soon after he came out of the Jamia Masjid, Malik was detained by the police, changing the atmosphere in Shopian town and district. Massive clashes erupted as protesting youth hit the streets and hurled stones on government forces who hit back by firing pellets, tear-smoke shells and sound canisters. Clashes were reported in Bonbazar, Goal Chowk, Hospital Road, Old Bus Stand, Shirmal, Imam Sahib and Keegam areas of the district.
Eyewitnesses said that several persons were injured at different areas of the district in pellet firing by the forces. Chief Medical Officer Shopian Dr Abdul Rasheed told Kashmir Reader that four persons with pellet injuries were received at Pinjora hospital. “Three of them were discharged after first aid treatment and one was referred with pellet injury on eye to SDH Shopian but he did not come there,” the CMO said.
Malik in his address said that the forces have been given a free hand to kill civilians. “People from Bihar, Bengal, UP and other parts of India come here and kill civilians and the cases are not even being registered against them with the help of black laws like AFSPA. Those who wail crocodile tears in the assembly are the people who designed these laws to save the occupational forces,” he said while adding that mothers with seven-month-old babies are being killed without any hesitation.
“The 90-year-old Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani, is under continuous house arrest, and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is also under house arrest. Like you see, all surrounding of town has been besieged with heavy bullet-proof vehicles, the routes leading to district Shopian have been blocked by the heavy deployment of forces. This tells the status of state oppression. We are not even allowed to protest peacefully,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Srinagar, Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been under house arrest since January 25, tried to defy house detention and march towards Shopian, but government forces detained him outside his residence.
The same happened with the Hurriyat Conference chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, as the authorities prevented him when he tried to move out of his residence at Hyderpora, Srinagar. A Hurriyat spokesman said Geelani was detained again when he tried to march towards Shopian for the proposed JRL call.
Geelani has been undergoing house detention since 2010 while Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been facing house arrest for the last week. The police have also detained pro-freedom leaders and activists including Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar, Syed Imtyaz Hyder, Mohammad Ashraf Laya and Mohammad Yaseen Attai, sources in the pro-freedom camp said.
In Srinagar, government forces installed road blocks at several routes including Gojwari, Rajouri Kadal, Safa Kadal, Khanyar, Nowhatta and Rainawari. All shops, restaurants and other business establishments stayed closed while public transport remained off the roads. Partial restrictions are also imposed in Maisuma and Khalkhud areas. A thin trickle of private vehicles was allowed to operate during the second half of the day. The situation remained largely peaceful, but some reports suggested that minor clashes erupted in old city.