On Pakistan I-Day, Govt imposes curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar
The J&K government Friday imposed curfew-like restrictions in several Srinagar areas to foil protests and hoisting of Pakistan flags by youth on Pakistan's I-Day.
However, despite restrictions, reports of youth hoisting Pakistan flags came in from several areas of the summer capital and elsewhere, sending the security establishment into a tizzy.
Police imposed curfew-like restrictions in vast areas falling under seven police stations in Srinagar including Rainawari, Safa Kadal, Karlkhud, Nowhatta, M R Gunj, Khanyar, and Maisuma. In some other areas of the city, thick deployment of police and paramilitary forces was seen.
Ghulam Ahmad, a resident of Nowhatta in old Srinagar, said all lanes in the area were sealed by police with barbed wire. "We were not allowed to venture out throughout the day," he said.
This is apparently for the first time that the government decided to impose restrictions in Srinagar on Pakistan's I-Day, observed on August 14.
The restrictions, according to senior police officials, were imposed to prevent youth from taking out pro-Pakistan rallies or hoisting Pakistani flags.
The government didn't allow congregational Friday prayers in historic Jamia Masjid, evoking strong criticism from Anjuman-e-Auqaf of the mosque and also from the Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Even as Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone, yesterday told this newspaper that "limited restrictions will remain in place in old Srinagar areas," local residents said curfew-like curbs were imposed across the old city.
Ahad Sofi, a resident of Kawdara area, said: "We were not even allowed to buy bread in the morning, let alone walk freely in the area."
Reports said despite curbs, several youth in Nowhatta hoisted Pakistani flags.
In some places in the city, some reports said, even Pakistan's National Anthem was sung by youth and women together.
A human rights activist, Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, was spotted in a Srinagar locality with a Pakistani flag fastened to his chest. He also distributed sweets to people "as a mark of celebration of Pakistan's I-Day."
Reports said in many areas of South Kashmir, Pakistani flags were waved by youth and also fixed on trees, atop mosques and on roadside walls.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilani said those who waved Pakistani flags "will face legal action."
"We have received reports of hoisting of Pakistani flags in some places. We are initiating action against all those who waved these flags," he told Greater Kashmir.
Almost separatist leaders were either placed under house arrest or lodged in various police stations.
JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was recently detained at Pantha Chowk here, continued to remain lodged in Police Station Kothibagh here. Many Front leaders were lodged in police station Maisuma, reports said.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house on Thursday evening while other leaders of the Hurriyat including Moulana Abbas Ansari and his son Masroor Abbas were also confined to their houses by police, sources said.
According to Hurriyat Conference (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar, while its chairman Syed Ali Geelani continues to be under house arrest, other leaders including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Altaf Ahmed were also confined to their houses.
Senior separatist leaders Shabir Ahmed Shah and Nayeem Ahmed Khan were also put under house detention, reports said.