Curfew Off, Hartal On, Clashes Break Out

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Curbs Slammed Back In Maisuma; Old City Rocked By Tear Gas, Brick-Batting 

SRINAGAR: Even as authorities lifted curfew after seven days following the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru last week, the Kashmir Valley continued to remain in the grip of hartal on Saturday, with clashes breaking out in several places as outdoor movement resumed. 

In the Maisuma quarter of central Srinagar, police and paramilitary troopers enforced restrictions once again after tear gassing stone-pelting crowds, while a large swathe of the Old City witnessed pitched battles between protestors and government forces in the afternoon. 

Clashes also broke out in some places in the Anantnag and Baramulla towns, and several youth were reported to have been rounded up by the police while using tear gas to quell the crowds.

Authorities said that a civilian, Nisar Ahmad, was injured in the nose in the Gojwara area of Srinagar, and a BSF officer Baldeep Singh was injured in stone-pelting in Baramulla. 

In old Srinagar, a large number of youth had assembled in the Nauhatta, Kaw Dara and Islamia College areas to march to the Martyrs’ Graveyard at Eidgah for Guru’s funeral prayers, but were blocked by the forces, leading to clashes, reports said. 

Eye-witnesses said that the CRPF used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the procession. 

Police and paramilitary men were redeployed in some old city areas after the disturbance spread to Nawa Kadal, Zaina Kadal and adjoining localities. 

In Baramulla and Anantnag towns, residents said that the paramilitary men had broken windowpanes of houses while chasing groups of youth. 

The minister of state for home denied that curfew had been re-imposed anywhere in the valley today, saying that the situation remained peaceful “barring some incidents.” 

The minister said that the around 50 youth who, according to the police, were rounded up over the past week would be released as the situation in the Valley eased. 

Despite strict curfew, Kashmir has been witnessing sporadic clashes since Guru was hanged last Saturday in the Tihar Jail of Delhi in the parliament attack case of 2001.

Three persons have died, and over 60, including forces personnel, injured in the disturbance. 

Separatist calls for marches to Guru’s hometown of Sopore and the martyrs’ graveyard here were foiled by the tough restrictions, but the chairman of the Hurriyat (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani yesterday extended the ongoing strike over the execution till Sunday. 

Shops and commercial establishments remained closed in Srinagar and outlying towns due to the strike today as well, and public transport stayed off the roads. 

Private vehicles, however, plied freely, and a few shops in the interiors opened for customers.

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