Kashmir Valley Shuts Against WPR Domicile Issue

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Srinagar:  Normal life was affected in Kashmir Valley on Friday due to a strike called by separatists against the issuance of identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs).

Valley witnessed a complete shutdown, protests and clashes on Friday against govt decision to issue“domicile certificates” to non-state subject West Pakistani Refugees residing in Jammu areas, even as Valley’s top separatist leadership strongly reacted to the government’s move and threatened state-wide agitation “if it was not rolled back forthwith.”

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

The joint resistance leadership—Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik—had urged people to stage protests against “settlement” of WPRs in Jammu and Kashmir through issuance of domicile certificates, on Friday. The leaders had also called for a complete strike against the move that has come in from severe criticism from several quarters. The shutdown call evoked a complete response as shops remained shut while traffic remained off the roads.

Protest and clashes were also reported from South Kashmir’s Tral town where according to locals government forces used tear-smoke shells to disperse the pro-freedom protesters.

Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest and was not allowed to lead Friday prayers at historic Jamia Masjid. 

Reports said that shortly after the culmination of Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid, scores of youth hurled stones and bricks at police and paramilitary CRPF men, triggering clashes. The protestors were carrying placards displaying slogans that sought immediate rollback of issuance issuing domicile certificates to WPRs who are mostly living in Jammu province. 

Forces chased the youth and fired dozens of tear-gas shells. Clashes according to eyewitnesses continued for hours.

JKLF activists organized a peaceful protest at Abiguzar Srinagar. Demanding the immediate roll back of the controversial decision to issue domicile certificates to the WP refugees, the protesters amid pro-freedom slogans waved Independent Kashmir flags. The protest culminated peacefully.

Protests and clashes were reported from Batamaloo area also. Reports said that scores of youth clashed with police after Friday prayers. Government forces burst tear-smoke shells to disperse the agitating youth who hurled stones on forces personnel.

A peaceful protest was staged by Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in Hyderpora Srinagar. Syed Ali Geelani, the Hurriyat leader continued to be under house arrest at his Hyderpora residence. 

Reports from north Kashmir said amid complete shutdown in Baramulla district, clashes between protesting youth and police were reported from Sopore area on Friday afternoon. Witnesses said that scores of youth assembled outside the Jamia Masjid area and started shouting pro-freedom slogans. Forces deployed in the area fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters who were throwing stones.

Locals from Aripanthan Budgam alleged that CRPF resorted to vandalism and smashed windowpanes of the residential houses after people organized a pro-freedom protest in the area. A police official said that barring few stray incidents of stone-pelting the situation remained peaceful across Kashmir. (CNS)

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