Curbs in Downtown areas; Friday prayers disallowed at Jamia; Mirwaiz placed under house arrest; Malik detained from Maisuma; Mild clashes in Sopore
Kashmir observed a complete shutdown on Friday to protest the killing of a civilian during a cordon by government forces in Srinagar’s Qamarwari area on Thursday, even as the police imposed stringent curbs on movement of people in Downtown areas and also disallowed congregational Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid here.
The call for shutdown, which evoked a complete response, was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik against the killing of 24-year-old Muhammad Saleem Malik—a bag-maker by profession—in Noorbagh, Qamarwari, during the wee hours of Thursday. According to Malik’s family, he was killed in cold-blood, but the police claimed he died in “crossfire.”
The shutdown, according to the JRL, was also against the frequent cordon-and-search operations by forces in southern Kashmir areas and fresh spree of arrests of resistance leaders by the police and their detention under the Public Safety Act.
CURBS, CLASHES, PROTESTS
The Srinagar administration imposed stringent curbs in Downtown areas to prevent protests and clashes. The congregational Friday prayers at historic Jamia Masjid were also disallowed for the second week in a row, and 15thtime this year. While the Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani continued to remain under arrest at his Hyderpora residence, the Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was confined to his Nigeen residence late on Thursday evening. The JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik was detained from his Maisuma residence and lodged in police station Kothibagh.
Srinagar’s city centre Lal Chowk wore a deserted look as commercial establishments, schools, colleges and private institutions remained closed. Thin traffic movement was however observed in some uptown areas of the City.
JKLF leaders and activists staged a protest march after congregational Friday prayers from Maisuma to Budshah Chowk where they were pushed back by the police. The protesters were demanding end to civilian killings, frequent CASOs and arrest of resistance leaders.
Another protest was taken out at Lal Bazar by activists of Awami Action Committee and Hurriyat (M). A peaceful protest was also staged at Masjid Taqwa, Tral in Pulwama district. The protestors were also demanding end to civilian killings.
The JRL call, according to reports, evoked a near-total response in Kashmir districts including Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag.
A witness said that mild clashes took place at Sopore after Friday prayers when youth tried to march towards main chowk. However, policemen used some force to quell the protestors, he said.
REPRESSION CONTINUES: MIRWAIZ
Referring to Thursday’s civilian killing in Qamarwari and disallowing Friday prayers at the Jamia, Mirwaiz took to twitter and said that the “cycle of state killings and repression continues” in Kashmir.
“Cycle of state killing and repression continues. Muslims barred for the 2nd consecutive week and 15th this year from offering Friday prayers at #Jama Masjid; leadership & activists placed under detention, CASO continues. Meanwhile, State claims ‘establishing democracy at grassroots level’!,” he tweeted.
BANIHAL SHUTS TOO
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in Banihal town along the Srinagar-Jammu highway on Friday against the killing of civilian during a cordon-and-search-operation in Srinagar’s Qamarwari area yesterday.
All commercial establishments remained closed in the town while local transport was off the roads.
(Banihal reporting by Muhammad Taskeen)