Protests, Clashes Resume After Relative Calm In Valley

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Srinagar: After two days of hectic activity, life was again affected in Kashmir Valley Friday due to a strike called by separatists as part of their agitation programme to protest the killing of civilians during the unrest and in support of their other demands.

Most of the shops, fuel stations and other business establishments in Srinagar were shut, while public transport was minimal, officials said.

The effect of the strike was accentuated by a public holiday in Kashmir today, they said.

Reports of shutdown were also received from most of the other district headquarters of the Valley, the officials said.

On Wednesday, the separatist groups — both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF — had scaled down their strike call from five days a week to two days.

They have extended the protest programme till the end of this month and have asked people to observe shutdown on Fridays and Saturdays.

Government barred Hurriyat patriarch Syed Ali Shah Geelani from participating in a Seerat Conference to be held in Jamia Masjid Srinagar. A Hurriyat (G) spokesperson said that police and paramilitary forces had been deployed in strength outside the residence-cum-office of octogenarian leader Syed Ali Geelani at Hyderpora. He said that Geelani was not allowed to move out.

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik addressed a large gathering at Muslim Chowk in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Malik appeared in Bugam area and offered Friday congregational prayers there. Eyewitnesses told news agency CNS that shortly after Friday congregational prayers, Malik led a peaceful procession that was attended by a large number of people. Amid pro-freedom slogans people marched towards Muslim Chowk where Malik addressed the people.

The separatists have been spearheading the agitation since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on July 8.

The more than five-month unrest in the Valley has left over 90 people dead and thousands others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out between protesters and security forces in several parts of the Valley including Nowhatta after Friday prayers, police said.

As soon as Friday congregational prayers ended, people took out a protest march from Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of the city, a police official said.

He said the security forces, posted on duty to maintain law and order, fired tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters.

The protesters resorted to stone-pelting at the security forces, the official said.

Batamaloo area of Srinagar city witnessed massive protest and clashes shortly after the culmination of Friday prayers. Large number of people assembled at Reka Chowk, Dandarkah, SD Colony and other areas of and pelted stones of the deployed Forces who retaliated with tear-smoke shells. As the clashes intensified and more and more youth resorted to massive stone-pelting, the government forces personnel fired a number of bullets in air to disperse the agitating protesters. The clashes continued for hours. Protesters were protesting against the civilian and militant killings in Kashmir.

Reports said that clashes between protesters and government forces erupted in different parts of Kashmir Valley including Pulwama, Tral, Baramulla, Papachen Bandipora, Sopore, Sangam Bijbehara and Nowhatta Srinagar.

At Magam town of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, at least 7 persons were injured after government forces fired pellets and tear-smoke shells to disperse protesters who attacked deployed troopers with stones. Eyewitnesses told CNS that a Milad procession from Makhama led by Ghulam Rasool Hami culminated in Magam. Shortly after the culmination of the procession, youth resorted to stone-pelting and attacked deployed forces. The government forces used tear-smoke shells and pellets to dissipate the protesters resulting in the injuries of all but 7 persons.

A peaceful pro-freedom march was carried out in Noorpora Tral after the culmination of Friday congregational prayers. The march was led by senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Samad Inqalabi.

Two massive pro-freedom marches were carried out from Sirhama and Waghama in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The rallies culminated at the house of the slain Hizb militant Engineer Basit Rasool Dar. People expressed sympathies with the bereaved family and offered special prayers for the departed soul.

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