Kashmir, Banihal shut against ‘arrest spree’

Kashmir and Banihal observed a complete shutdown on Sunday against mass arrest of separatist and religious leaders in the Valley and also against petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A which confers special rights and privileges on “permanent” residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir, Banihal shut against ‘arrest spree’
Photo: Habib Naqash/GK

Kashmir and Banihal observed a complete shutdown on Sunday against mass arrest of separatist and religious leaders in the Valley and also against petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A which confers special rights and privileges on "permanent" residents of Jammu and Kashmir. 

The call for shutdown was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik. 

Dozens of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, including its chief Hameed Fayaz, were arrested in nocturnal raids across the Valley, especially in its southern districts, since Friday evening for unspecified reasons.

The police also detained the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik and five other leaders of the organisation.

Many religious scholars belonging to Jamiat-e-Ahlihadees including Mushtaq Ahmed Veeri were also detained. Senior Hurriyat Conference (M) leader Prof Abdul GaniBhat was placed under house detention, while the Hurriyat Conference (G) leader GhulamNabiSumji was detained.

The police have claimed that these arrests were a "routine exercise to create a peaceful atmosphere in the run up to the upcoming elections".

According to groups of witnesses, the shutdown call evoked a complete response across the Valley. In Srinagar's commercial hub LalChowk, roads wore a deserted look while all shops and business establishments remained closed for the day.

A witness said stringent curbs were in place across Downtown, especially in areas falling under jurisdiction of five police stations including Rainawari, Khanyar, Safakadal, Nowhatta and Mahrajgunj.

Reports of shutdown call evoking a complete response came from various district headquarters including Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag, Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora.Meanwhile, Banihal town in Chenab Valley in Jammu province also responded to the JRL's shutdown call.

Shops and business establishments remained closed while traffic also remained off the roads, a witness said.

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