Kashmir Unites To Protest Govt. Apathy


Authorities foil protests on ‘Revival Day’, several leaders detained

SRINAGAR: The state authorities on Monday imposed restrictions in parts of capital city here to thwart the proposed rally of traders to protest against the government’s failure to rehabilitate the victims hit by last year’s deluge. 

The call to strike and protest was given by the traders and was supported by a cross section of the political spectrum-Hurriyet (G), Hurriyet(M) and the National Conference. 

The strike call  given to protest the failure of the government to rehabilitate 2014 flood victims elicited an overwhelming response:  business, and commercial activity ground to a halt. Shops, offices, business establishments, petrol pumps and banks stood closed while transport was off the roads. Thin attendance was recorded in public and private offices, reports added.

The state government imposed undeclared curfew in Srinagar city and sealed the nerve centre Lal Chowk. Not a single person, especially the bikers were allowed to cross the naka laid down by police near Regal Chowk and other places in Srinagar city. Concertina wires were laid at many places in Srinagar city, restricting the movement of the people. “I was even not allowed to reach Abiguzar where I live. A rude ‘police constable’ after stopping me near Regal Chowk rebuked and abused me,” said a resident of Abiguzar alleging that the present government has been turning out to be totally anti-people government.

Reports said that huge deployment of police and para-military forces CRPF was put in place at several locations to restrict the movement of the protesters towards the venue at Sri-Pratap Park.

Restrictions were placed in areas including Batamaloo, Maisuma, Lal-Chowk to thwart public movement, reports said.  

Anticipating the stir on the first flood anniversary of 2014 floods, the authorities also had put several pro-freedom leaders under house arrest. Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shahid-ul-Islam, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and several other pro-freedom leaders endorsing the protest rally were put under house arrest ahead of the rally, reports said.

Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was kept under house arrest at his Nigeen residence this morning. His close aide Shahid-ul-Islam and National Front chairman Nayeem Ahmad Khan were also placed under house arrest, reports said.

Earlier in the day, police detained Showkat Choudhury, President of Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), a conglomerate of several trade bodies, to thwart the amalgam’s anti-government demonstration in the capital city here.

“By placing Hurriyat and trade leaders under house arrest on Monday and making fresh arrests and restricting the movement of other leaders, the government has shown its frustration,” said Farooq Ahmed Dar strongly condemning the action of the State.

Piercing tight security arrangements throughout the city to thwart the march, three traders bodies leaders, Muhammad Yasin Khan, Sadiq Baqal and Showkat Ahmed Chowdary were taken into custody by police during the wee hours. All these leaders houses were raided and picked up by police.Raising anti-government slogans, the traders appeared at the Chowk, the nerve centre of the city, around 1000 hrs IST, but police took at least fifty traders to the nearby Kothibagh police station, the sources said.

President, Kashmir Traders and Manufactured Federation, Muhammed Yaseen Khan, said that several leaders of the business community have been arrested. “Police raided my house today morning and I was taken to Kothi Bagh police station,” he said. “Many of our leaders have been arrested.”

President Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) Muhammad Sadiq Baqal said, “We will not be cowed down by the restrictions. We will show to the government that people’s voice matter,” he said.

Fearing trouble during the proposed protests, authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of the people and city roads were blocked with razor wire.

Official sources said the step was taken to maintain law and order. J&K Police on Sunday had denied permission to traders to hold protests in Lal Chowk. A senior police officer said that the police denied permission to Kashmir Economic Alliance for protests near the clock tower in the business hub Lal Chowk. “We offered them Sheri Kashmir Park as the venue, but they declined,” the officer said.

At least 300 people were killed and thousands rendered homeless in floods last year. Properties and standing crops, worth thousands of crores of rupees were destroyed in the deluge.

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