A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir Thursday against the killing of two militants and a house-owner's son in Srinagar's Fateh Kadal area, even as stringent curbs were imposed in majority of Downtown areas to thwart possible protests. However, soon after withdrawal of deployment from Downtown in the evening, youth took to streets and clashed with forces.
The call for shutdown was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik against the killing of top Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Mehrajudin Bangroo, his associate Faid Waza and the house owner Habibullah Sofi's son Rayees Ahmed in the Fateh Kadal gunfight on Thursday morning. While the police alleged that Rayees was a militant accomplice, the family refuted the claim.
Witnesses said that shutdown paralysed normal life across Kashmir as commercial establishments, private and government-run educational institutions as well as universities remained closed for the day. In the City center Lal Chowk, all shops remained closed while traffic was off the roads.
Reports from various district headquarters also suggested that a complete shutdown was observed in southern districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and northern districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora.
CURBS, CLASHES IN DOWNTOWN
The police had imposed stringent curbs in majority of Downtown areas fearing protests in the wake of Fateh Kadal killings.
"There was a curfew-like situation in areas including Mahraj Gunj, Khanyar, Fateh Kadal, Safa Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Nowhatta, Rainawari, Zaldagar, Nawabazar, and others," witnesses said.
They said that even though the situation remained peaceful throughout the day due to heavy deployment of forces' personnel—wearing riot-gear to deal with protests—massive clashes broke out soon after forces were withdrawing from the Downtown areas.
"Amid massive pro-freedom sloganeering, youth took to streets and pelted forces with stones and bricks—leading to massive clashes—in Safa Kadal, Nowpora, Sekidafar, Fateh Kadal, Baba Demb and Khanyar," a witness said.
"The forces resorted to teargas and pepper gas shelling on the protestors," he said.
Clashes were on in majority of Downtown areas till late evening.
HIGH SPEED INTERNET REMAINS SUSPENDED
The high-speed internet services in Srinagar district remained suspended for the second consecutive day Thursday, even as authorities claimed to have restored 2G internet on all mobile networks.
"We will take a decision on restoring the high speed internet soon," an official said.
The internet services were snapped across Srinagar soon after Fateh Kadal gunfight started.
RESISTANCE LEADERSHIP REMAINS CAGED
The top resistance leadership including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik continued to remain caged. While Geelani and Mirwaiz are confined to their homes, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik—who was detained before the commencement of urban local body elections—remains lodged in police station Kothibagh.
Other leaders including Er Hilal Ahmed War, Javaid Ahmed Mir, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ghulam Nabi Sumji and many others have either been placed under house arrest or "taken into preventive custody."
JRL CALLS FOR PEACEFUL PROTESTS TODAY
The Joint Resistance Leadership urged people of Kashmir to stage peaceful protests against "repression" after Friday prayers and asked imams to shed light on "injustices" inflicted on the people, a JRL statement read.
CURBS TO CONTINUE IN DOWNTOWN TODAY
The Srinagar administration has decided to continue with restrictions in majority of Downtown parts on Friday to thwart possible protests against the Fateh Kadal killings. "Restrictions will remain in place in Downtown parts especially Mahraj Gunj, Fateh Kadal, Nowhatta, Rainawari and Khanyar," a police officer, privy to the decision, told Greater Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the class work in all colleges and higher secondary schools of Srinagar district will remain suspended on Friday, officials said.
An official source said the decision has been taken as "a precautionary measure to avoid law and order situation in the district."
The University of Kashmir also decided to suspended classwork on Friday (October 19, 2018) at its main campus Hazratbal as well as the Zakura campus, a varsity spokesperson said in a statement.