JKLF, Hurriyat (G) activists stage demos; Tral remains shut for 3rd day
Protests broke out across Kashmir on Friday against a plea in the Supreme Court seeking abrogation of Article 35-A which confers special rights on J&K’s permanent residents. The call for peaceful protests against “assault” on state’s special status and “efforts” to abrogate Article 35-A was given by joint separatist leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
and Muhammad Yasin Malik. The protest call was also against arrest of separatists by National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate as well as against alleged reign of terror unleashed by government forces in south Kashmir areas.
Soon after Friday prayers culminated, leaders and activists of Hurriyat Conference (G) staged a protest at Hyderpora here. “Stubborn approach of Delhi has created a war-like situation in the region. Delhi has never demonstrated seriousness and good faith in resolving the Kashmir issue,” the protesters said.
Another protest was led by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front zonal-president Noor Muhammad Kalwal at Budshah Chowk here.
According to a JKLF spokesman, many Front leaders including Mushtaq Ajmal, Muhammad Yasin Butt, Siraj-ud-din Mir, Sheikh Abdur Rashid, Muhammad Sideeq Shah, Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri, Prof Javed, Gulzar Ahmad Pahalwan and Showkat Ahmad Dar participated in the protest march.
Holding placards displaying slogans against “oppression”, the protestors raised pro-Islam and pro-freedom slogans. The protestors later staged a peaceful sit-in, the spokesman said.
He said Kalwal later addressed a gathering wherein he strongly condemned ongoing oppression in Kashmir, especially in south Kashmir.
“Other speakers also cautioned people about the designs of New Delhi vis-a-vis erosion of special status and efforts of scrapping Article 35 A,” the spokesman said.
A witness said scores of youth assembled at Nowhatta Chowk in Downtown after culmination of Friday prayers and staged a demonstration.
“Youth were raising slogans in favour of freedom and Islam and saying no one will be allowed to fiddle with Article 35-A,” the witness added.
As the protestors swelled, police and paramilitary forces swung into action and fired dozens of tear-smoke shells to break up the protests.
Clashes also broke out in Sopore township of Baramulla district.
A witness said soon after Friday prayers, hundreds of youth assembled at Markaz-i-Jamia Masjid and started raising pro-freedom slogans. “As soon as the protestors marched towards main town, police and paramilitary forces personnel swung into action and fired teargas shells to disperse the youth. The youth, however, continued to clash with the forces till late evening,” the witness added.
Meanwhile, Tral township of Pulwama district observed a complete shutdown for the third consecutive day Friday to mourn the killing of three militants and a civilian.
“Clashes broke out at Batagund village after Friday prayers. Youth took to the streets and pelted stones on the forces,” a witness said.