Kashmir Shuts Down Against Killings

Lal Chowk, Srinagar’s commercial nerve center during strike on Friday- KO Photo by Abid Bhat

Srinagar– Kashmir valley observed a near total shutdown to protest the killing of civilians in an alleged encounter in uptown Hyderpora locality of Srinagar on Monday.

All major markets remained shut and public transport was off the roads with police and paramilitary forces deployed in strength across Kashmir in anticipation of protests after Friday prayers. The call for strike and protests was given by Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

Paramilitary personnel checking vehicles in strike hit Srinagar on Friday- KO Photo

This was the first strike called by the Hurriyat Conference since August 2019 when J&K’s special status was revoked and a massive security crackdown was launched against separatists and their sympathisers by the government. The strike call evoked an overwhelming response.

Shops, fuel stations and other business establishments remained shut in all major markets of the Srinagar and other major towns, the officials confirmed.

No Friday prayers were allowed in Srinagar’s Grand Mosque- KO Photo

Public transport was largely off the roads, but private cars and auto rickshaws were seen plying in some areas of the city, a these reports said. Srinagar’s Grand Mosque was locked by the authorities and no Friday congregational prayers were allowed there.

A cop frisking a motorcyclist in Srinagar during strike on Friday- KO photo

Earlier Hurriyat Conference in a statement said, “It regrets that as most peoples’ leadership and political activists are either in jails or under house detention, to protest such inhumanity, and in solidarity with the devastated families of the slain civilians and their demand that the dead bodies of their loved ones be returned to them for burial.”

Policemen and para-military personnel were deployed in the sensitive areas in Srinagar and other towns to thwart any possible protest. KO Photo

The bodies of the two civilians Muhammad Altaf Bhat and Dr Mudasir Gul killed in controversial Hyderpora police operation and hurriedly buried some 100 kilometers away in Handwara were exhumed late on Thursday and handed over to the families. The bodies were buried here during the night as per police directive after their last rites were performed by the close family members.

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