Amidst strict restrictions and curbs, Kashmir observed shutdown for the second running day on Saturday against the killing of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind chief Zakir Musa, who was slain in a gunfight with the security forces at Dadsara Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday evening.
Soon after Musa’s killing authorities imposed restrictions in Srinagar’s old city and snapped the mobile internet service across Kashmir. The Valley observed a spontaneous shutdown on Friday.
The shutdown call to mourn Musa’s killing and against the mysterious killing of a civilian Zahoor Ahmed of Pulwama district for today was given by Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Zahoor was brother of active Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Irfan Ahmed, of Naira, Pulwama.
An official said, “Restrictions were imposed in parts of Srinagar and few districts in south Kashmir as a precautionary measure to foil protests.”
The mobile high speed internet services remained snapped for the third consecutive day in the Valley. However, the authorities restored 2G internet services in few districts on late Saturday evening. “Restoration process will depend upon the situation,” said an official.
CLASHES IN OLD CITY
The commercial hub of Srinagar, Lal Chowk, remained closed on Saturday as all the business establishments, private institutions and shops remained shut for the day.
The street vendors too did not set their makeshift stalls at the city centre.
A witness said stringent curbs remained in place in majority of old city areas, including Rainwarai, Khanyar, Safa Kadal, Nowhatta and Mahraj Gunj, while the security forces personnel wearing riot gear were patrolling the streets to thwart protests.
A witness said that amid curbs, youth in various parts of the old city hit the streets and fought pitched battles with the policemen.
“Clashes broke out at Habba Kadal, Safa Kadal and Noorbagh areas. The youth pelted security forces with stones. The security force personnel responded by firing tear gas shells. The ding-dong battles between the two sides continued till late in the evening,” a witness said.
Clashes between youth and policemen were also witnessed at Soura, 90-feet and Hawal areas, the witness added.
At Padshahibagh area in uptown here, youth had blocked the road by placing logs and rocks to prevent public transport from plying, another witness said.
Soon after the withdrawal of security forces in the evening, scores of youth hit the streets at Nawa Kadal, Noorbagh, Safa Kadal, Malik Sahab, Sekidafar and Eidgah in old city and pelted security forces with stones.
“The forces responded by firing dozens of tear gas shells to disperse them. Intermittent clashes were on in different parts of the old city till late in the evening,” said Reyaz Ahmed, a local resident.
CALL EVOKES RESPONSE IN KUPWARA, BARAMULLA, BANDIPORA
The shutdown call, according to sources, evoked complete response in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts in north Kashmir.
TRAIN SERVICES SUSPENDED
The train services on the Baramulla-Banihal track remained suspended for the second consecutive day today, an official said.
He said that as and when the situation improves, the services will be resumed without any delay. “The services were suspended as a precautionary measure,” he added.
AMID RESTRICTIONS, PEOPLE CONTINUE TO THRONG MUSA’S RESIDENCE
Massive restrictions were placed in south Kashmir districts even as protests and clashes erupted in several parts of Tral, Awantipora, Shopian, Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama areas.
Complete shutdown was observed on second consecutive day across entire southern Kashmir.
All shops, business establishments, educational institutions, government and private offices remain closed while the public transport remained off the roads.
Authorities had imposed restrictions in south Kashmir to prevent people from taking out rallies and reaching Noorpora, native village of Musa.
An official said that contingents of police and paramilitary men were deployed in “volatile” areas including Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Tral and Anantnag.
Many roads leading to Tral were restricted with armoured vehicles to prevent people from staging protests. The nakas were set up at different places to prevent people from entering Tral.
Contingents of police and paramilitary forces were deployed at all the entry and exit points. The CRPF and police were deployed in the lanes and by lanes across south.
During the day taranas were played in many Masjids, asking people to come out and take out rallies towards Tral.
Witnesses said youth pelted forces with stones at main town Shopian, Nowdal Tral and main town Anantnag. Forces lobbed tear smoke shells on protesters. The pitched battles continued throughout the day.
Four women including a handicapped lady were allegedly thrashed by the force personnel at Pinglish village in Tral.
When contacted Deputy Inspector General South Kashmir Atul Goel said the allegations are being looked into.
Despite strict curbs in place, thousands of people managed to reach the residence of Zakir Musa and offered prayers for him.
They also expressed sympathy and solidarity with his family.
People also visited Dardsara, where gunfight took place on Thursday.