Shutdown, protests across Valley; minor clashes in some areas
Srinagar: Yet again the historic Jamia Masjid of Srinagar stayed locked on Friday while strict restrictions on public movement were imposed in several areas of old Srinagar. The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) had asked people to hold protests after Friday prayers against the killing of four civilians in Kulgam on Wednesday. To prevent protests, the authorities put under house arrest Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The third JRL leader, JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, was kept imprisoned at Srinagar Central Jail.
Amid a complete shutdown across south Kashmir, clashes between local youth and government forces erupted at two places, but nobody was reported injured. Clashes were still going on in Khudwani, where four civilians were killed on Wednesday, when this report was filed. Local sources said that government forces used tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors. Stone-pelting and minor clashes were also reported from Hyer area of Tral town in Pulwama district.
All commercial establishments remained shut throughout the day in south Kashmir. Schools and colleges were closed and traffic was very thin on the roads.
Protests were held in Banihal town along the Srinagar-Jammu highway amid a complete shutdown. Eyewitness said hundreds of protesters hit the roads soon after the culmination of Friday prayers and raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
In Pampore, hundreds of people offered funeral prayers in absentia for those killed in Khudwani. Witnesses told Kashmir Reader that soon after the culmination of Friday prayers, people assembled and raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.
Following Friday prayers peaceful protests were held in Khodweni area of Kulgam district against Wednesday’s civilian killings in the area.
While people dispersed peacefully after protests some youth regrouped later in the afternoon near SKUAST campus and engaged government forces in stone pelting.
Forces, as per local sources, used tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors.
Clashes were going on in the area till last reports came in.
Minor stone pelting was also reported from Hyer Tral area of Tral town in Pulwama district.
All shops and business establishments remained closed in old Srinagar. A heavy deployment of police and paramilitary patrolled the streets and restricted people’s movement. Some movement of private vehicles was allowed during the first half of the day.
The situation remained peaceful during the day but some reports suggested that minor clashes erupted in Anchar, Soura and Saki Daffar, Darish Kadal, Nawa Kadal areas of old Srinagar.
Clashes erupted in Nasrullapora and Mirgund areas of Budgam between youths and government forces. The clashes broke out when people carrying banners and raising slogans were marching towards the main market in Budgam town.
A complete strike was observed across north Kashmir. Most shops and business centres remained closed while traffic on roads was thin in Baramulla, Sopore, Pattan, Palhalan, Langate, Handwara, Kupwara, Kralpora, Hajin and Bandipora areas.
Minor clashes erupted at Super Bazaar area of Sopore soon after Friday prayers. Protesters, mostly youths, pelted the government forces with stones. The forces retaliated by lobbing tear gas shells at them. Local reports said that a youth was arrested during clashes in the area.
In Handwara, people held a peaceful protest to demand justice for Asifa Bano and to also protest against the continuing bloodbath in Kashmir. People demanded that the trial of Asifa’s rape and murder case be transferred to Srinagar from Jammu. The people condemned the action of Kathua lawyers who prevented police from filing chargesheet in the case in court.
“We strongly condemn the action of Kathua lawyers and the stand of the BJP. We demand a fair trial so that Asifa gets justice,” social activist Showkat Ahmad Pandith said at the gathering.
Meanwhile, senior Shia leader and Hurriyat activist Aga Syed Hassan was put under house arrest by the authorities, a statement from the Hurriyat said.
—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmad, Suhail Shah and Bilal Habib