Kashmir shuts down in solidarity with Iraq
29 March 2003
News Network International
SRINAGAR: Normal life was completely thrown out of gear in the valley on the second consecutive day as people stayed indoors in response to the strike call given by various Kashmiri groups. The two day call was against the US-led coalition forces aggression on Iraq. Shops, educational institutions and business establishments remained closed. The attendance in the government offices was thin and the traffic plied minimally, Greater Kashmir reported. Massive demonstrations were organised by various political and social organisations in many areas of the Valley. The police had to intervene at Sonawar and Dalgate after protest rallies from the areas started marching towards UN office. The protesters were chanting slogans against Bush and Tony Blair. However the rallies dispersed after police resorted to lathi- charge and fired numerous tear gas shells in air. Some of the demonstrators were injured in the process. Reports of protests were also received from Maisuma, Khanyar, Safakadal and Soura. At Khanyar, the protesters who were led by an Imam of a local mosque torched the effigy of the US president Bush and raised Anti-American and Pro-Iraq slogans. The police used force to disperse the angry protesters. The Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Auqaf Trust (MAT) also organised demonstrations at various places. The people led by MAT representatives took out huge processions from the historical Jama Masjid and Ziyarat Hazrat Sayeed Yaqoob Sahib (RA). The demonstrators were carrying placards and banners reading 'No War For Oil'. Slogans were also shouted against the coalition countries helping US in its war against Iraq. Urging Muslim countries including Turkey and Kuwait to stop providing military support to US, the protesters said the countries by doing so were betraying their own Muslim brethren. Reports of complete strike were also received from Kupwara, Handwara, Islamabad, Qazigund, Tral, Kulgam, Shopian, Mattan, Arwani, Awantipora, Pulwama, Aishmuqam, Dooru and Verinag. Huge processions were taken out at Shopian and Kulgam. Following the strike call by a local organisation, normal life was also severely affected in Leh. People staged demonstrations at various places against US invasion. The biggest procession was taken out from Leh Jamia Masjid after the prayers. The procession went through the bazaar and ended at Pologround. Condemning the American assault on Iraq, the protesters urged UN to intervene in the matter. Latter, the members of Muslim Coordination Committee handed a memorandum addressed to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the Indian president and prime minister, to the deputy commissioner.