Kashmir Braces For Stormy Friday, Schools Closed

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Srinagar – In an unprecedented move signifying its deep unease, the government has announced a general holiday for schools and colleges on Friday anticipating protests and demonstrations to flare up again over a US-made derogatory film and insulting French caricatures of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Nervous authorities were in the process of making additional police and paramilitary deployments around sites of major Friday congregations and trouble-prone areas in a bid to keep the situation under control.

The chairman of the Hurriyat (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the grand mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Basheeruddin Ahmad, have called for peaceful demonstrations after Friday prayers tomorrow to denounce the spate of attacks on the person of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The state council of ministers, which met here yesterday, has been unanimous in condemning the film, saying that it had hurt the sentiments of people. The government today once again asked the central ministry of information technology to block twelve websites said to be hosting the foul video.

“All educational institutions in the valley will remain closed on Friday because of the protest call over the film, as the government has declared tomorrow a general holiday,” the director for education, Muhammad Shafi Rathar, said.

The commissioner secretary for education, Farooq Ahmad Faktoo, said that colleges in the valley too would remain closed on Friday.

“The decision has been taken in view of possible protests over the insulting video,” he said.

Authorities made it clear that the holiday did not apply to government offices and departments, which would function as normal tomorrow.

A senior police officer said that security measures across the valley were being stepped up because of the proposed protests over the video.

“In view of the protest call over the film, additional security measures are being undertaken in Srinagar and outlying towns to prevent disruptive elements from creating trouble,” the police officer said.

“Since violence was witnessed in some towns during the recent hartal, additional forces deployments are being made on Friday to deal with any untoward incident,” he said. 

GRAND MUFTI CALLS FOR PROTESTS :

Close on the heels of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the grand mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Basheeruddin Ahmad, too has called for peaceful protests after Friday prayers tomorrow.

“Every Muslim is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and honour of the Holy Prophet (pbuh),” the grand mufti said in a statement. “Anyone culpable of the slightest discrepancy in this regard is guilty of disrespect.”

He, however, said that the protests should be held absolutely peacefully, and no one should try to damage private or public property.

“Protests against the film are on across the world, and US nationals are being sent back from all Muslim countries,” he said.

“Unfortunately, in our state, some non-serious individuals have issued such irresponsible statement which make one pity them,” he said. “But this is not a political matter on which one can follow policies of distortion to serve one’s own ends.”

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