Kashmir Friday observed a complete shutdown against the “fresh arrest spree” by the police, ban on socio-religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, National Investigation Agency raids in the Valley, “assault” on Article 35-A and slapping of Public Safety Act on separatist leaders.
The call for shutdown, given by the Joint ResistanceLeadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad YasinMalik, evoked near-total response across the Valley.
In Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk, all businessestablishments and private institutions remained closed, while very thintraffic plied on roads. Street vendors also responded to the JRL call.
For the second consecutive week, the police did not allowcongregational Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid here, triggering strong criticismfrom its Anjuman-e-Auqaf, which termed it as a “direct interference into thereligious affairs of people.”
The Srinagar administration had imposed stringent curbs inSrinagar’s Downtown areas, including Mahrajgunj, Safa Kadal, Rainawari, Khanyarand Nowhatta. Restrictions under section 144, which bars assembly of four ormore people at a particular place, were also imposed in Maisuma area of uptownSrinagar to foil any protests.
Groups of witnesses said the shutdown call evoked a strongresponse in southern Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian districts, and alsoin northern Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts. However, they said,inter-district private and public transport plied normally.
Leaders and activists of the JRL staged protests in variousparts of Srinagar. Scores of JKLF leaders and activists, soon after Fridayprayers, took out a rally at Maisuma.
The rally, according to a JKLF spokesman, was led by NoorMuhammad Kalwal and Sheikh Abdur Rashid, while dozens of other leaders andactivists participated in it.
The protestors carried placards which read: ‘NIA raids notjustified’, ‘PSA on leaders unacceptable’.
Another protest was held in Lal Bazar area, which was led byMuhammad Shafi Khan of the Awami Action Committee (AAC). Several leaders andactivists also staged a protest outside a masjid at Hyderpora and stronglycondemned the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, arrest spree, slapping of PSA on leaders,shifting of prisoners to outside J&K jails, NIA raids and disallowingprayers at Jamia Masjid.
Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelanicontinued to remain confined to his Hyderpora residence, while HurriyatConference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under arrest at hisNigeen residence Thursday and not allowed to address Friday gathering at JamiaMasjid.
Yasin Malik, who was booked under Public Safety Act onThursday, has been lodged in a solitary confinement in Kotbalwal jail in Jammu,a Front spokesman said.