Srinagar: Intensified security arrangements and deserted roads were witnessed in Srinagar on Thursday as Lok Sabha elections were held in north Kashmir and people responded to a call for shutdown issued by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.
Shops and business establishments were shut during the day, especially in the old city, and there was no public transport on the roads. Government offices and education institutions were closed as the government had declared a holiday on account of election day.
To prevent people from holding any protest demonstrations, restrictions had been imposed in several city areas by the authorities. Large contingents of police and paramilitary CRPF in anti-riot gear were deployed from the morning. Concertina wires were laid across roads at several places to prevent movement of both pedestrians and vehicles. Government forces also installed roadblocks on several routes.
Markets including Nalahmaar, Gada Kocha, Gada Bazar, Zaina Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Malaratha, Bohri Kadal, Nowhatta and other downtown areas were closed throughout the day.
Earlier in a statement, the JRL had said, “The oppression unleashed by Indian state against the unarmed peaceful political struggle in Kashmir has touched new heights and through this dictatorial kind of oppression, India wants to silence people’s voices by military might.”
The JRL appealed people to “safeguard the sacrifices rendered by great Kashmiri martyrs and stand firm against the ongoing onslaught against peaceful resistance and stay away from polls as these have always proved detrimental to our interests and sacred cause.”
Reports of a complete shutdown were received from north Kashmir areas and also from central Kashmir’s Budgam district. All shops in the main square of Budgam town were closed and only a few local and non-local vendors had installed their stalls on the roadside. Commuters had to wait for hours in order to find transport.
Mobile internet services were snapped in north Kashmir early in the day as a precautionary measure, officials said.