SRINAGAR: A complete shutdown was observed in Kashmir on Saturday against the Supreme Court stay on an FIR against army soldiers in the Shopian killing and the killing of Hurriyat activist Mohammad Yousuf Rather alias Yousuf Nadeem.
Nadeem, affiliated with the Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference, was killed by unknown gunman in Budgam on February 12.
Early on Saturday, a huge contingent of police and paramilitary forces arrived in various parts of old Srinagar. The government forces laid siege by installing barbed wire at the various entry and exit points of areas including Rainawari, Nowhatta, Maharaj Gunj, Khanyar and Safa Kadal. Partial restrictions were also imposed in Maisuma.
During these restrictions, say the people of these areas, government forces do not even allow residents to buy bread and milk. In Safa Kadal, dozens of troopers divided themselves into small groups. Some sat at shops while others stood close to the barbed wires and gestured at area residents coming out to purchase morning groceries to remain inside instead. “This has become routine for the people of downtown. It looks like we will have to ask for permission for breathing,” said local resident Nissar Ahmad Mir.
In the areas of downtown, there was a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces patrolling the streets and restricting people’s movement.
Markets including Nalahmaar, Zaina Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Malaratha, Bohri Kadal , Nowhatta and other markets of downtown were closed. However a thin flow of private vehicles was allowed to operate during the second half of the day.
People from central Kashmir’s Budgam area also observed a complete shutdown. All shops in the Budgam main square wore a deserted look as only a few vendors had installed their stalls on the side streets.
Amid the shutdown, clashes between youth and government forces also erupted at Narbal area of Budgam district on Saturday.
Local sources said that youth pelted stones at passing vehicles, which created panic in the area.
“Soon government forces rushed to the spot, but youth pelted stones at them as well,” they said. The forces used tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesting youth.
The situation in north Kashmir remained peaceful across the day as no protests or clashes were reported. Reports said that a very thin traffic movement was visible on the roads here.
Most of the shops in Baramulla, Sopore, Pattan, Sangrama, Rafiabad, Handwara, Langate, Kupwara and Kralpora remained closed while transport plied. Some shopkeepers later open their shops while street-side vendors were seen on the roads and paths in all the areas. No reports were received of any protest or clash in the areas.