Kashmir shuts against blasphemous caricatures

Greater Kashmir

Protests, clashes at several places; Malik, other separatist leaders detained

Srinagar, Jan 23: Amid complete shutdown, protests and clashes erupted at several places in Kashmir against blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) published and reproduced in the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
The strike call was given by MutahidaUlema-e-AhlisunnatWaljamat—an amalgam of various religious organizations in Kashmir—and endorsed by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik; Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani; Hurriyat Conference (M); Hurriyat Conference (JK) and several other organizations including the High Court Bar Association.
Amid shutdown in Srinagar areas, Malik along with some other JKLF leaders, was detained this morning while several other pro-freedom leaders were put under house arrest.
Shops and business establishments remained closed in Kashmir while work in Government was affected.
To thwart demonstrations, authorities had deployed hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel in Srinagar and other district headquarters.
Police had sealed LalChowk’s Clock Tower with barbed wire and did not allow people to gather there. Movement of people was also restricted in Maisuma.
Reports of anti-Charlie Hebdo processions were received from Nowhatta, SaidaKadal, Soura, HabbaKadal and many other areas of Srinagar.
Soon after Friday prayers, a procession was taken out from Jamia Masjid Nowhata. It was led by Awami Action Committee General Secretary GhulamNabiZaki, with hundreds of participants chanting pro-Islamic and anti-America slogans. The protestors carried black flags and also chanted slogans against France and Israel. They set on fire the effigies of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.
Reports said protestors clashed with forces who used tear smoke shells to disperse them.
A massive procession was taken out at 90-Feet Road, Soura.  In Habakadal area, police burst tear smoke shells to disperse protestors who pelted stones on the cops.   
Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation members took out a peaceful march in LalChowk Srinagar.
Police resorted to teargas shelling near Zainakadal Srinagar when protestors tried to move towards Bohrikadal. The march was taken out from Khanqah-e-Mola.
Reports of protests were also received from Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag, Tral, Baramulla, Sopore, Bandipora, Budgam, Handwara, Kupwara, Pampore and several other areas of Kashmir.
Reports said soon after Friday prayers, people in Palhalan area of north Kashmir took to streets and clashed with forces. The forces burst tear smoke shells to disperse them. Reports of massive processions were also received from Budgam district of central Kashmir.
Ittehadul-Muslimeen held a protest demonstration against the blasphemous caricatures. The demonstration was led Aga Syed Yousuf, Imam of JamiaSajadia (AS). A large number of people joined the protest march after Friday prayers.
JamaitAhlihahdees condemned the blasphemous sketches.


JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was scheduled to lead a procession against the blasphemous cartoons, was detained by police from his residence on Friday morning, sources said.
He was lodged at police station Kothibagh. Besides Malik, police put JKLF vice chairman Showkat Ahmad Bakhshi under house arrest.
Police also detained JKLF activist Muhammad MaqboolTaploo and clamped curfew in LalChowk and adjacent areas to foil the JKLF rally, reports said.
Police also raided the residence of JKLF zonal general secretary Sheikh Abdul Rashid, a Front spokesman said.
“Despite these restrictions hundreds of JKLF activists and leaders including zonal president Noor Muhammad Kalwal and people from all walks of life led by JKLF vice-chairman advocate Bashir Ahmad Bhat took out a procession from Dukaan-I-Sangeen. The peaceful rally that was moving towards JKLF office at BohriKadal was stopped by police near GadaKocha. Police fired dozens of tear smoke shells and resorted to cane-charge and dispersed the rally forcefully,” the spokesman said.

MutahidaUlema-i-AhliSunnat (MUAS) thanked the people of Kashmir for observing shutdown on its call.

Expressing regret and serious concern over the continuous publication of blasphemous caricatures, the Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman and head of MutahedaMajlis-e-Ulema, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Friday said “the aim of such acts is to hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims worldwide.”
He said such “sacrilegious publications under the garb of freedom of expression are spreading religious hatred across the globe thus disturbing the world peace.”

Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani thanked people for protesting against the blasphemous sketches and strongly condemned the house arrest of pro-freedom leaders including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leader Raja Mehraj-ud-in.

Denouncing house detention of its chairman Shabir Ahmad Shah, the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) termed it as “frustration of authorities.”
National Front chairman and Hurriyat JK leader Nayeem Ahmad Khan Friday said publishing blasphemous sketches is provocative and “such attempts are aimed at hurting religious emotions of Muslims.”
Senior APHC leader and Jammu Kashmir Salvation Movement Chairman, Zaffer Akbar Bhat and Liberation Front Chairman Javed Ahmad Mir said publication of blasphemous cartoons is not acceptable to anyone in the Muslim world.