Fourth strike brings Kashmir to standstill
15 October 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Life came to a standstill across the Kashmir Valley on Monday in response to a militant call for strike, the fourth in the past two weeks against the US-led bombing raids on Afghanistan.Jaish-e- Mohammed and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen wanted the people of Kashmir to protest US secretary of state Colin Powell’s visit to South Asia. The strike call issued jointly by them was endorsed by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, another militant outfit on the watch list of the US state department. At places, agitating crowds which took to streets to hold anti-US and anti-Britain demonstrations clashed with the riot police when it tried to break up the demonstrations. The police burst teargas canisters on the protesting crowds at Maisuma and Batamalloo in Srinagar, whereas in the old city protesters were seen hurling stones on passing vehicles. At Kaka Sarai, which was among Srinagar localities that witnessed street battles between agitating mobs and the police, the latter fired rifles in the air, witnesses said. Occasionally, they would come out in small groups at Srinagar intersections to burn effigies of President George W. Bush and the US flag to show their anger. “Meri jaan, teri jaan, Taliban Taliban,” is Kashmiri agitators’ favourite slogan during anti-US demonstrations. With the arrival of the police, the protesters would hide in dark alleys and then throw stones and other missiles on the security forces. During police action, the protesters would take shield behind pavements. Some of them even dared to pick up burning teargas containers and throw them back at the policemen. Witnesses said several persons were injured in street battles, but the police said it had yet to ascertain the actual number. Shops and other businesses in the Valley remained closed, whereas skeletal transport services plied on the roads. Government offices and educational institutions were closed on account of holiday to celebrate Miraj-ul-Aalam, Prophet Mohammed’s ascension to Heaven. Earlier, Jaish-e-Mohammed alleged that the US froze its assets at the instance of India and threatened to deliver a “smashing blow” to assert its authority in Kashmir. “We warn them (Indians) to beware of the mujahideen. We would soon cause them a smashing blow to assert our authority. We would continue the struggle. We have not launched jihad at the behest of anybody and so we would not stop it at anybody’s dictates,” its leader Maulana Masood Azhar was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani denied any link with Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. “We condemned the attacks in the US and we feel the raids on Afghanistan is an act of terrorism and condemnable,” he said.