Itifaq Lone/ Mushtaq Ahmad
Srinagar/Baramulla: Normal life came to a halt in Kashmir valley on Friday in wake of the shutdown called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Mannan Wani and his associate in Handwara.
All shops, business establishments, schools, colleges, and petrol pumps remained closed across the Valley. All exams scheduled on Friday had already been postponed.
In Srinagar, stringent restrictions were put in place to thwart any attempt to hold anti-India demonstrations, witnesses said.
Carrying riot gear, paramilitary CRPF troops and policemen maintained strict vigil in volatile areas including Nowhatta, Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Safa Kadal, Maisuma, Saraf Kadal, Khanyar, Soura and downtown areas of the old city.
Internet service was snapped in most parts of Kashmir while in Srinagar the bandwidth was reduced to low speeds.
Funeral prayers in absentia for Mannan Wani were offered at Jinab Sahib shrine in Soura, where hundreds of people gathered after Friday prayers in the shrine.
Witnesses said that intense clashes erupted when the gathered people marched towards main market Soura where they were intercepted by government forces. People hurled stones on government forces who retaliated by firing tear smoke shells and pellets. Two youths reportedly suffered pellet injuries.
Earlier in the day, the JRL organised a protest demonstration in Maisuma area, headed by Sheikh Abdul Rashid. The protesters chanted pro-freedom and pro-Mannan slogans.
Meanwhile, the government disallowed congregational Friday prayers – for the 15th time this year – at Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid.
Taking to Twitter, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that the “repression of New Delhi has pushed Kashmiri youth to armed resistance and a cycle of death and loss.”
Amid a complete shutdown, thousands of people held protests in north Kashmir’s Kupwara. Sources said that people who could not reach Takipora, the native village of Mannan Wani, on Thursday due to restrictions imposed by government forces, gathered to protest against his killing. Journalists also complained that they were prevented from going to Takipora to cover the funeral procession which was held on Thursday evening.
People who reached Mannan’s home on Friday offered special prayers for the slain militant. The people also offered another round of funeral prayers in absentia and then held protests against Mannan’s killing.
Several people also held small protests in Sogam and main market Kupwara where they also offered prayers for the other slain local militant, Ashiq Hussain, a resident of Langate area.
A complete shutdown was observed in all parts of north Kashmir including in Kupwara, Sogam, Kralpora, Lolab, Handwara, Langate, Bandipora, Hajin, Baramulla, Pattan, Sheeri, Boniyar and other places. Most shops and other business centres including tuition centres stayed closed while public transport was also off the roads.
All schools and colleges in Kupwara district and sub-district Handwara remained closed for the second day on Friday after district administration ordered closure of all educational institutions for another day.