Clashes, Protests Close Highway, Hit Rail Service
Srinagar: People in Kashmir and Chenab Valleys observed a complete shutdown against the murder of Kashmiri trucker Zahid Rasool Bhat who was seriously injured when miscreants lobbed a petrol bomb inside their truck over a week ago at Shivnagar Udhampur district of Jammu region.
The call for shutdown was given by almost all the separatist organizations and it was endorsed by traders bodies, All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee and Kashmir Pandit Sangharash Smiti as well.
Amid curfew like restrictions clashes broke out in South Kashmirs Islamabad district where during the day-long clashes several protesters and government forces personnel were wounded.
Eyewitnesses said that thousands of people participated in the funeral procession of the murdered youth. Amid pro-freedom, anti-RSS, anti-PDP and BJP slogans Zahid was laid in rest at his ancestral graveyard at Batango Islamabad. Soon after the last rites of the murdered youth, agitated youth took to streets and fought pitched battles with the government forces. The protesters hurled rocks while government forces retaliated with pepper gas and tear-smoke shells.
In a bid to prevent protests from spreading to other areas, authorities had erected barricades at several major intersections in Islamabad and Bijbehara towns. The district witnessed a complete shutdown with all the shops, business establishments, educational institutions remained closed while transport was off the roads. As the protests intensified, authorities suspended
rail and road traffic from Jammu to Valley. Over 2,000 vehicles including load carriers were stranded at various places along the highway between Jammu and Banihal.
A police official said that the move was taken as a precautionary measure in view of rising tempers in the Valley. Reports said that on Sunday night scores of truck drivers from outside state were asked to stay at safer places while some of them spent night outside police stations.
The train service between Banihal and Baramulla too was suspended following blockade of tracks by protesters near Bijbehara in Anantnag, said a railway official at Banihal. At Khanpora Bridge in Baramulla, scores of protesters protested and burnt down tyres on the road. As a precautionary measure we decided to suspend the rail service for a day, said the Railway official.
Besides Kashmir, the shutdown was also observed in Chenab Valley while at many places protesters took to streets demanding stringent punishment to the goons responsible for the murder of South Kashmir youth. All the
shops and other business establishments got closed at Banihal to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Raising slogans against government, they also took out a procession in the town.
Protest against the murder of Kashmiri trucker was also witnessed in Kishtwar and Doda districts of Jammu region.
Reports said that all the district headquarters and towns including Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Tral, Awantipora, Pampore, Kakapora, Bandipora, Baramulla, Handwara, Kupwara, Langate, Ganderbal, Kangan, Budgam observed a complete shutdown. All the shops and business establishments remained closed while transport remained off the roads. In Old Srinagar city, areas coming under the jurisdiction of various police stations reeled under severe restrictions.
Meanwhile, almost all the separatist leader were either detained or placed under house arrest. (CNS)
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