Day 97: No Let Up In Protests, Clashes

Srinagar: Curfew and curbs remained in force in old Srinagar city as a precautionary measure even as normal life remained suspended in the Valley for the 97th day.

A police official said curfew remained in force in five police station areas of downtown Srinagar. Curbs on the movement of people in the police station areas of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal and Maharaj Gunj have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order. The official said while there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere else in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley.

As usual heavy deployed of government forces was made across Kashmir to maintain law and order while in restive parts mobile bunkers were created. Some parts of Civil Lines including Lal Chowk, Dalgate, Sonwar, Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar witnessed heavy movement of private vehicles while vendors had erected stalls in large numbers from Polo View to TRC chowk. Roadside vendors were also seen doing business in other parts of city including Hari Singh High Street, Batamaloo and Jawahar Nagar. Some shops were seen open in Jawahar Nagar, Batamaloo and Raj Bagh. 

   However, normal life elsewhere in the Valley remained affected for the 97th consecutive day in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani's killing in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on July 8. Shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed, while public transport continued to be off the roads. The shops and other business establishments open during the periodic relaxation announced by the separatists on certain days of the week.

Scores of men, women and children took to streets in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district against the youth arrests.Witnesses said that the protesters, chanting pro-freedom slogans, staged a protest in Rahmoo village to demand the release of youths arrested during a forces’ raid. They said that during the raid two youth Bilal Ahmed Dar and Hilal Ahmed Itoo were picked up and lodged in police station Pulwama. The protesters said that both the youth are innocent.

A massive protest was also staged in Pulwama against the arrest of a cleric Maulana Sajad Hashmi and his two brothers Shabir Ahmed and Shahnawz Ahmed. Hashmi is a preacher at Central Jamia Masjid Nagabal Shopian who along with his two brothers was arrested during a nocturnal raid at Rajpora Pulwama.

Witnesses told news agency CNS a large number of people took to roads and demanded the immediate release of Maulana Hashmi and his two brothers. The protest was organized by Sunni Jamiat Taliba. “We all know Maulana Hashmi and his brothers are innocent. The detention of Hashmi and his brothers is sheer harassment. Mehbooba Mufti led government has crossed all the limits in repressing and suppressing people of Kashmir,” the protesters said.

Government Forces meanwhile resorted to tear-gas shelling and pellet firing to disperse agitated protesters who were protesting against the raid on Tehreek-e-Hurriyat activist Muhammad Yousuf Falai at Chitragam village of Shopian district. Reports said that Government Forces raided the house of Falai that sparked protest. The protesters hit to roads while Forces fired pellets and tear-smoke shells to disperse them. The clashes that continued for hours left all but 9 persons wounded.

Meanwhile, a Hurriyat leader from southern Pulwama district was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on Thursday. Baghat was arrested few days back near District Hospital Pulwama.

Reports said that Tehreek-e-Hurriyat activist Manzoor Ahmad Baghat of Ruhmoo village of the district was booked under the stringent act. He is likely to be shifted to a jail in Kathua in Jammu region today, they said.

Clashes erupted in Tahab village of Pulwama also after government forces arrested three people, including two minors.

Reports and witnesses said that people took to streets in Tahab to protest against the arrests. They said that forces resorted to teargas shelling on the protesters, triggering massive clashes.

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