Govt. Curbs Foil Hurriyat’s Sopore Chalo

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No Friday prayers in Jamia Masjid; Leaders caged

SRINAGAR: Authorities on Friday foiled ‘Sopore chalo’ march of separatist camp against the string of mystery killings of their cadre there by enforcing strict restrictions in old city and parts of North Kashmir.

Following the killings of pro-freedom activists and former militants, the divided factions of Hurriyat Conference and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front  had issued a joint protest calendar early this week calling for Sopore march. 

However, police had made it clear that it won’t allow anyone to march towards Sopore and had cracked down on pro-freedom camp by either placing them under house arrest or detaining them in various police stations.

The authorities, meanwhile, imposed strict restrictions in the areas falling under five police stations — MR Gunj, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari and Safakadal — of downtown city here and restricted civilian movement.

Witnesses said that the Govt. forces imposed the restrictions strictly in and around Nowhatta area and did not allow anyone to venture out on streets. Police had erected barricades and concertina wires on the bridges and junctions of old city. The police and paramilitary also imposed restrictions in Maisuma, Gaw Kadal and Basant Bagh areas of the Civil Lines of the city.

Even as there was no call for shutdown but most of the shops, commercial establishments and education institutes remained shut while traffic too was off the roads.

The police stopped people from offering Friday congregational prayers in Jamia Masjid. Interestingly, today was the first Friday of holy month of Ramazan.

SOPORE UNDER SEIGE

Authorities in Sopore and its adjoining areas of north Kashmir clamped curfew-like restrictions to bar the protest programme of pro-Azadi camp. The authorities had deployed a few thousand police and paramilitary personnel across the town while the army was also seen at various places.

Residents said that “not a single person was allowed to venture out”. “Forces didn’t allow anyone to come out. The curfew was enforced very strictly. There was complete silence in the town,” a resident of Main Chowk said, adding: “Due to restrictions, only 6 to 7 people managed to offer Friday prayers in Sopore Jamia Masjid.”

The top police, paramilitary and army officers patrolled the Sopore streets themselves and took stock of the situation, sources said, adding that the officers include DIG of police (north Kashmir) Garib Dass.

Armoured vehicles of police and CRPF were deployed at various junctions and bridges in the Sopore town and its outskirts.

However, despite strict restrictions, groups of youth resorted to stone-throwing on government forces in different parts of Sopore town including at Hathi Shah Bridge, official sources said.

The clashes also broke out at Sangrama, Kreeri and Delina areas of in the Baramulla district. However, there were no reports of injuries to anyone.

DIG Das said that barring few minor incidents of stone-pelting, the situation in Sopore remained peaceful. “The day passed off peacefully. There was no major incident of violence and I myself was monitoring the situation for entire day in the Town,” he said.

“The restrictions were for criminal elements. We allowed the students to reach examination centres and we also allowed needy to reach their respective destinations,” he said. On being asked why people weren’t allowed to offer Friday prayers in Jamia Masjid, the top police officer said: “Although we didn’t stop them but the fact is people themselves preferred to stay indoors because of deployment and minor stone pelting.”

He said there would be no restrictions in the town tomorrow (Saturday).

The situation in Baramulla town remained peaceful. However authorities had deployed police and paramilitary in sensitive areas.

A police official said that the situation across Valley remained peaceful.

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