Kashmir shuts against Zubin Mehta concert


Srinagar, Sep 7: Life across Kashmir was paralyzed Saturday in response to the strike call against the Zubin Mehta concert held at the Shalimar Garden on Srinagar outskirts this evening. The call was given by the Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani and supported by the United Jihad Council (UJC).
Business establishments and educational institutions across Kashmir remained closed while traffic also remained off the roads, except for vehicles of police, paramilitary forces, Army, official cavalcades and skeletal private cars at a few places.
Most of the roads in Srinagar wore a deserted look while police and paramilitary forces in large numbers were witnessed patrolling the streets.
To thwart any protest demonstration, the authorities had blocked most of the exit and entry points to old Srinagar. Armored vehicles were also deployed at some road junctions.
In the entire Srinagar, the authorities had imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPc that bars assembly of more than four persons.
Residents of Shalimar, Nishat, Harwan and adjoining areas faced tough time on Saturday due to strict restrictions imposed by the authorities in view of Zubin Metha show at Shalimar garden.
“We were virtually imprisoned in houses as hundreds of policemen and paramilitary personnel were deployed in our localities,” said residents of Nishat and Shalimar.
“While the high-profile personalities from outside JK, local lawmakers and ministers were enjoying the music show, we were made to suffer. We were not allowed to take our ailing children to hospitals for treatment,” they said.
The locals alleged that the areas were turned into a garrison and their antecedents were verified by Jammu and Kashmir Police.
“Few days back, several intelligence agencies did profiling of locals and shopkeepers in vicinity of Shalimar garden. Not only this, many shopkeepers were directed to shut their shops days before the event,” they alleged.
Pertinently, the government had decided to close the roads leading to Shalimar Garden for “security reasons”.
No vehicles, except those of visiting dignitaries, were allowed around Shalimar and Nishat.
In Budgam and Ganderbal districts of central Kashmir, the strike paralyzed normal life. Shops and other business establishments remained closed and transport was off the roads. Even public transport was not plying on link roads in these districts.
Reports reaching here from Bandipora said complete shutdown was observed in the district in response to the strike call. Scores of youth early morning took to roads in Main Gulshan Chowk and torched two public lavatories in Main Bandipora Chowk, forcing police and paramilitary forces to come out.
As the police and CRPF reached the spot, youth engaged them in stone pelting. Clashes continued till deployment was withdrawn from main chowk in the evening. Complete shutdown was observed in Sumbal, Hajin and Naidkhi townships of Bandipora.
The clashes intensified in the district as the news about civilian killing in Shopian spread. Police resorted to tear-gas shelling to disperse the angry youth. However the clashes continued.
“A small building constituting two public lavatories were damaged  when scores of youth set it ablaze, forcing police and CRPF to come out on roads,” a police officer said.
Witnesses told Greater Kashmir that building was torched as it was used by police and CRPF as “shield” during clashes.
Reports from Baramulla said in response to the strike call, a complete shutdown was observed in the district. All shops were closed and traffic was off the roads.
In Baramulla town, intermittent clashes between police and protesting youths were witnessed throughout the day.
Scores of youth gathered near the cement bridge, Khanpora Bridge and at the Tehsil road Baramulla and started pelting stones at the police. Police lobbed scores of tear gas shells to disperse the agitating youths.
In Palhallan area of Pattan, the authorities had deployed CRPF personnel to tackle any untoward situation. All shops were closed in the area.
Complete shutdown was also witnessed in Magam and Tangmarg areas. All the shops were closed and thin movement of vehicles was witnessed on roads.
Complete shutdown was also observed in Sopore town of Baramulla district. Reports said shops, other business establishments, and government offices remained closed. The traffic was off the roads.
Since Wednesday morning, most areas of Sopore witnessed heavy deployment of police and CRPF men to thwart any protest demonstration.
Life was also paralyzed in Kupwara and Handwara areas due to the strike. Shops, business establishments and fuel stations were closed due to the strike. The roads in Kupwara wore a deserted look as public and private transport remained off the roads. The roads in Trehgam, Kralpora and Langate wore a deserted look. Complete shutdown was also observed in south Kashmir’s districts of Islamabad (Anantnag), Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam. Business establishments, Government offices and educational institutions remained closed and traffic was off the roads.
Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani, National Front Chairman, Nayeem Ahmad Khan were put under house while Javid Ahmad Mir remained in police custody.
In a statement, Nayeem Khan said “Government of India on the pretext of facilitating the concert is trying to create false perception of peace in Kashmir.” “The concert is aimed at creating a wrong perception of peace in Kashmir at international level,” Khan said.
Khan said Kashmir is a political and internationally-recognized dispute which can’t be resolved by music therapies. “The resolution process needs strong and serious political initiatives,” Khan said. (WITH ALTAF BABA & MIR TARIQ)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Sep 2013 00:00:00 IST

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