Strike Disrupts Life In Valley

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SRINAGAR: Despite a busy rumour mill, the Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown on Wednesday on the call of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Mashawarat which heads a campaign by separatist groups to demand the return of the bodies of Muhammad Afzal Guru and Muhammad Maqbool Bhat from the Tihar Jail.

Shops in main commercial centres of the city and outlying towns remained shuttered, public transport off the roads, schools closed, and government offices with sparse attendance.

Private vehicles plied as usual, and several bank offices remained open, while town and city interiors witnessed sporadic business activity.  

Today’s strike had also been called against killings in forces’ firing and a spree of arrests across the valley over street violence.

It passed off peacefully in the city except for stray incidents of stone-pelting in Batmalu, and a late evening flare-up in the downtown locality of Bohri Kadal which left one person injured.

Police and paramilitary forces had been deployed in sensitive areas to deal with any eventuality.

Forces personnel went into action in Batmalu to chase away groups of youth who had appeared on streets attacking shops and vehicles with stones.

Reports spoke of the strike disrupting life in the southern towns of Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama as well.

In the Bijbehara town of south Kashmir, protestors decrying arrests of locals held up traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully after authorities released the arrested youth.

Business activity and academics remained suspended in central and northern Kashmir as well. 

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