Srinagar: Government forces deployed in strength in Srinagar for the prime minister’s visit did not allow the march to Lal Chowk called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) on Saturday.
Hundreds of policemen and CRPF troopers wearing riot gear were deployed in Srinagar to prevent public movement. Razor wires were laid on several roads and barricades were erected to prevent the Hurriyat leadership and people from marching to Lal Chowk.
The “Lal Chowk Chalo” was called by the JRL, which comprises Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.
The authorities had imposed restrictions under Section 144 CrPC in areas under seven police stations in old Srinagar. Residents of these areas said that government forces were deployed in strength there. The city’s commercial hub, Lal Chowk, witnessed a complete shutdown.
Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that on Friday late evening, government forces sealed all entry and exit points of Lal Chowk by installing barricades and concertina wires on roads.
A three-tier security ring was laid in and around the city ahead of Modi’s visit. All roads leading to the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) were blocked to prevent any vehicular movement. According to the traffic police’s advisory, all roads leading to the SKICC would stay closed till Saturday afternoon – till the time the prime minister was in Srinagar.
The river police wing, the CRPF and BSF were deployed in the Dal Lake while the army was asked to dominate the Zabarwan peak overlooking the venue, where Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the Kishanganga hydroelectric project and the Srinagar Ring Road.
A complete shutdown was observed across the Valley to protest against Modi’s visit to the Valley. All shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and private offices remained closed throughout the day. Vehicular movement was thin on the roads.
Train services were suspended across the Valley and high-speed mobile internet services were also barred across the Valley.
Police detained Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at his Nigeen residence, stopping him from marching towards Lal Chowk. Later, Mirwaiz was taken to Nigeen police station and detained there.
Mirwaiz said that the government had once again followed its practice of using military might and had turned Srinagar into a military garrison.
“We wanted to convey to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that people of Kashmir have been facing the ultimate form of repression and New Delhi is directly responsible for the Kashmir situation,” he said.
Police also detained scores of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leaders and activists after they tried to march towards Lal Chowk. A spokesperson said that JKLF leaders and activists assembled at Budshah Chowk and tried to march towards Lal Chowk but policemen deployed in the area prevented them from moving ahead.
He said scores of activists and leaders were detained and taken to Kothi Bagh police station. “Kashmir has been turned into a battlefield where innocent young boys are being killed, maimed, blinded, injured, arrested, humiliated and pushed to the wall,” the JKLF spokesman said.
Police also foiled the protest march led by legislator Er Rasheed. Rasheed was detained by police along with his supporters when they tried to take out a protest rally from his Jawahar Nagar residence. Policemen deployed there took Rasheed and others into custody in Jawahar Nagar.