Kashmir observed shutdown on Friday to mourn the civilian killings, which took place during the past few days. The strike call was given by the joint separatist leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and incarcerated Muhammad Yasin Malik.
A civilian Arshid Ahmed who was injured on Monday during protests against the alleged rape of a minor Bandipora girl, succumbed to injuries on Wednesday. Two civilians Rayees Ahmed Dar and Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat were killed during separate encounters at Pulwama and Shopian in south Kashmir on Thursday, while another civilian Nayeem Ahmed Shah was shot dead by unidentified men in Bhaderwah.
The shutdown call disrupted the normal life across Kashmir as all the commercial establishments, schools and colleges remained closed for the day. The city centre Lal Chowk wore a deserted look and traffic movement remained thin.
No Friday prayers allowed at Jamia Masjid
The administration imposed curbs in old city under section 144. No Friday congregational prayers were allowed at the historic Jamia Masjid. Disallowing the Friday prayers in the holy month of Ramadan at the central Masjid evoked sharp criticism from the Anjuman-e-Auqaf Jamia Masjid that termed closure of the Masjid on the “second Friday of fasting month as the direct interference into the religious affairs.”
According to a witness, scores of security forces personnel were deployed around the Jamia Masjid where Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was supposed to deliver a Friday sermon.
The witness said that curbs under section 144 were strictly enforced in Nowhatta, Hawal, Gojwara, Khanyar, Mahraj Gunj and Safa Kadal areas. “The restrictions were, however, stringent in areas around Jamia Masjid only while as in other parts of downtown, people could be seen walking and travelling in vehicles,” said another witness.
South, north Kashmir
Soon after the congregational Friday prayers ended in south Kashmir, youth in groups hit the streets in old town Anantnag, Kadipora, Malakhnag and Cheeni chowk and staged protests that were followed by stone pelting, a witness said.
He said that youth engaged security forces in pitched battles. “The security forces used mild force to disperse the protestors,” the witness added.
In Tral area of Pulwama district, a protest rally was taken out against the civilian killings. The protestors later disbursed off peacefully. In Pulwama area, people continued to visit the house of slain civilian Rayees Ahmed Dar in large numbers, another witness said.
Meanwhile, shutdown affected the normal life in Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts in north Kashmir and Ganderbal, Budgam districts in central Kashmir.