Govt Clamps Down On ‘Shopian Chalo’

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Srinagar—The government on Wednesday clamped down in Srinagar and South Kashmir with strict curbs to foil the Joint Resistance Leadership’s (JRL’s) Shopian Chalo programme, even as the Valley observed a shutdown to mourn the victims of army firing in the southern town this Sunday and the shifting of prisoners from Srinagar to outside jails.

A sizeable presence of government forces cracked down on pedestrian and vehicular movement in large parts of Srinagar and South Kashmir, with authorities blocking access to the Shopian town from all sides.

In Pulwama, people tried to defy the restrictions to march to Shopian but ran into heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces who blocked their way.

Similarly, attempts to take out a procession from Maisuma were thwarted by a large presence of government forces, even as Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was detained outside his Nigeen residence and Syed Ali Geelani barred from moving out of his office in Hyderpora. JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik had been shifted to the Central Jail in Srinagar on Monday along with Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri and Ghulam Muhammad Dar on judicial remand till March 10.

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Protests and clashes were reported from several places in south Kashmir including Memander, DPL, and from near the mini-secretariat in Shopian, as well as the Nowgam bypass, Mochow, Mehjoor Nagar, Sopore, and Papchan Bandipora.

At least 10 persons were said to have sustained injuries in the clashes.

Authorities said that the overall situation remained peaceful in the twin districts of Shopian and Pulwama.

 “There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the Valley although some stray stone pelting incidents were reported from some places,” a police officer said.

Four young civilians and two militants were killed in the Pahnoo area of Shopian on Sunday when, according to the army, they opened fire on a forces contingent stationed on the road.

The army said that the civilians had been accompanying the militants and were their “over-ground workers” (OGWs), a claim strongly denied by the families of the slain civilians.

The police have said that it is investigating the incident.

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In its call for a march to Shopian, the JRL had said that the killings had once again exposed the brutal face of Indian democracy in Kashmir.

It had held the PDP and other pro-India parties and forces in Kashmir directly responsible for the killings. 

Meanwhile, a Panchayat Ghar was damaged in a fire incident in Shopian on Wednesday evening. However, official sources said that it was not immediately known whether it was set ablaze by somebody or there was short-circuit.

Official sources said that the blaze started at 8:00 pm and fire tenders were rushed immediately to douse of the flames at Dangam.

Reportedly, the structure has suffered substantial damage.

A police officer said that the police was investigating whether it has been burnt by some miscreants or there was an accidental fire including due to short circuit.

 “A case in this regard was registered and investigations launched to ascertain the cause of the fire,” he said

 In A First, Police Issues Advisory 

In a first, police issued an advisory on Wednesday morning, asking people to maintain peace in Kashmir Valley. “Your police seeks cooperation of the citizens  for maintaining order for ensuring peace. At some places you are going to find restrictions today in Srinagar city. Also South Kashmir particularly in Shopian restriction has been placed,” a police spokesman said in a statement issued here. 

“General Public is requested not to pay attention to any rumours. In case of emergency please reach to Dial 100 for assistance,” it added.

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