Srinagar Put Under Siege; Scores Hurt, Arrested In Procession Bids
SRINAGAR (ONS) – The government on Friday sealed off entire central Srinagar with undeclared curfew and heavy forces deployment to foil the traditional Muharram 8 procession banned for the past 22 years.
Nearly 50 persons, including one policeman, were injured and scores arrested as azadaars (mourners) tried to break through the barricades amid religious chants and slogans, even as a protestor tried to set himself ablaze over the curbs.
Forces used heavy tear gassing and cane charges to break up processions gathering for nauha khwani and anti-Israel demonstrations which retaliated with stone pelting.
Steel and barbed-wire barricades had come up early morning along the edge of the cordon to prevent ingress from other parts of the city into areas coming under the 6 police precincts of Shaheed Gunj, Kral Khud, Maisuma Kothi Bagh, Ram Munshi Bagh and Sher Gharhi.
Authorities declared prohibitory orders under section 144 and enforced strict restrictions on all outdoor movement after sealing off the entry points at Khayyam Chowk, Munawwarabad, Karan Nagar and Batmalu to prevent ingress into Dalgate, Lal Chowk and Jahangir Chowk.
Police and paramilitary armoured personnel carriers had been parked across roads, and deployments left with strict instructions to deal sternly with any attempt to cross the barriers.
A group of mourners tried to defy the restrictions at Batmalu by taking to the streets, and headed for Lal Chowk chanting religious hymns, but ran into heavy police resistance at the fire services headquarters a short distance away.
The forces fell upon the mourners with cane charges and tear gas, sparking off clashes as the protestors retaliated with stones.
Scores off azadaars were bundled off to police stations, but intermittent clashes continued well into the afternoon, leaving many injured.
The police also foiled another attempt to take out a procession the interior areas of Shaheed Gunj.
An azadaar identified as Mushtaq Ahmad tried self-immolation to protest against the curbs on the procession, but was swiftly overpowered by the police. He has been admitted to the Bone and Joints Hospital at Barzulla.
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