Day 43: Curfew, Shutdown, Protests Continue in Kashmir

Srinagar: Curfew, shutdown and protests continued across Kashmir Valley on Saturday as unrest that started with the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani entered day 43 while cellular services were restored today morning after nearl a week.

All the entry and exit points leading to city centre – Lal Chowk – were sealed off by government forces with razor wires, barricades and mobile bunkers and the civilian movement was completely restricted. Hundreds of police and CRPF men were deployed in Lal Chowk area to prevent any kind of protest while night curfew remained imposed in several Srinagar areas including city centre.

The curfew in Srinagar’s Old City, Maisuma, Batamaloo and other areas also remained imposed strictly as thousands of forces personnel in riot gear guarded the streets after culmination of dawn prayers.

Many locals of Old City alleged that they were not allowed to buy milk and vegetables by forces. The curfew also remained enforced in Anantnag, Pampore and Pulwama townships of south Kashmir.

After being suspended for six days, the private cellular companies on the directions of government today morning restored mobile services in Kashmir Valley. While both outgoing and incoming services of postpaid connections have been restored, the outgoing on prepaid connections continues to remain barred including on State-run BSNL. However, the BSNL postpaid connections are functioning without any suspensions ever since the unrest in valley started.

Besides curfew and protests, the shutdown continued across Kashmir Valley. All the shops, commercial establishments, education institutions and most of the banks remained closed. The government offices including Civil Secretariat continue to witness low attendance of the employees.

Meanwhile, reports reaching here said that an elderly couple was injured in pellet firing by the government forces in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. According to reports, forces fired pellets on the couple after they resisted the arrest of their son in Kamla village last night in restive Tral.

Reports quoting a local resident said the house of 80-year-old Abdul Qayoom to arrest his son, Shabir Ahmad Fallahi who heads the Jamat-e-Islami at the district level.“He was not present in the house at the time of the raid. When forces tried to arrest his brother Noor Muhammad, the elderly parents resisted,” said the local. The couple was shifted to hospital and their condition is being stated stable.

In the meanwhile, scores of patients and drivers of today staged protests near Old Secretariat after forces disallowed ambulances to proceed ahead during curfew. The protesters said that the cops manning the road stopped ambulances and refused to allow to them to move between hospitals.

A police official said here that the situation across Kashmir remained by and large peaceful on Saturday. “There were some protests and clashes at Reban in Baramulla while as peaceful protests were held at Pahoo in Pulwama and Naina Pulwama. In the evening, clashes erupted at several areas of Old City,” he said. A massive peaceful rally was held by people at Aripanthan village of Budgam today where five civilians were killed early this week.

CRPF Thrash DC Office Staffer, Colleagues Protest

Srinagar: Scores of employees from DC office Srinagar Saturday staged a protest after an employee was thrashed by CRPF personnel near Jahangir Chowk.

The employees amid anti-government and anti-police slogans assembled in the premises of DC office and staged a massive protest. They accused government of harassment at the hands of CRPF men. “Even after showing them curfew pass and revealing my identity, they hit me with gun butts in presence of a top police officer who didn’t bother to intervene,” Arif Ahmed Teli, an employee at DC office informed.

The protesting employees said that they fail to understand what the present government is up to. “On the one hand government is forcing us to report on duties while on the other hand our curfew passes are not honoured and we are being abused and thrashed on roads by CRPF men,” they said.

The protesting employees dispersed only after the Divisional Commissioner assured them action against the guilty CRPF personnel. “During our meeting with the Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmed Khan, he assured that such incidents will not be tolerated and action will be taken against those who harass people especially employees on roads,” the employees said.

Forces Target Ambulances, Again

Forces manning the streets and roads of besieged Srinagar city on Saturday morning stopped three ambulances carrying several seriously ill patients near old Secretariat outside Director Health’s office around Jahangir Chowk.

The ambulances were heading towards SMHS Hospital for advanced treatment to the patients.

As per the witnesses, the patients and attendants came out of ambulances and staged a sit-in protest against the police action.

The protest lasted for half an hour and ended after the intervention from employees working at old secretariat.

Police officials on duty “assured” the patients that they “will look into the matter”.

There have been frequent incidents of hindrances and harassments to ambulances, ambulance drivers, medics, para-medics and patients at the hand of forces who have been deployed to enforce curfew across Kashmir.

Late Thursday night, an ambulance driver was fired at by forces in Safa Kadal area of Srinagar while he was ferrying patients from Kangan to SMHS. He received around 300 pellets in his right arm and is recuperating in B&J Hospital here.

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