SRINAGAR: Shopkeepers in many parts of downtown Srinagar on Saturday closed their shops and held peaceful demonstrations to express their protest and condemnation of the firing of pellets into Jamia Masjid, injuring dozens of civilians on Friday.
More than 50 civilians, including some photojournalists, sustained injuries on Friday when government forces used pellets, teargas shells and other means to cow down protestors after pushing them inside the mosque premises. Asr prayers offered in the afternoon were not held at the grand mosque because blood was being cleaned of the floor and walls at the time.
The shutdown call for today was given by the Jamia Market Traders’ Federation. Markets at Bohri Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Zaina Kadal, Pandan, Gojwara, and Rajouri Kadal stayed shut in solidarity with the people and traders in Nowhatta, where the Jamia Masjid is situated.
Resistance leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik came to Nowhatta to take part in the protest. They spoke to the assembled people and later visited the injured at SMHS Hospital.
Traders at Nowhatta asked the government to stop deploying forces inside the mosque at the time of prayers, especially on Fridays. They said it is the presence of government forces that provokes stone-pelting and clashes after the Friday prayers.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry also condemned the incident. “The government forces fired pellets into the masjid injuring hundreds of men and women. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry fails to understand as to what compels the state administration to deploy government forces at a place of worship where a large number of people gather peacefully to offer prayers,” the KCCI spokesman said in a statement.