Normal life resumes in Valley as police crackdown on stone-pelters4 July 2010
The Daily Excelsior
From SRINAGAR: Normal life resumed today in Kashmir after 10 days of protests which necessitated imposing restrictions and curfew in many parts even as the security forces carried out a swoop against the stone-pelters across the Valley, arresting over 100 'miscreants' in late night and early dawn raids, official sources said here. Police assisted by CRPF personnel carried out raids at several places in the summer capital of the State and elsewhere in the Valley as part of the crackdown on the stone-pelters, the sources said. The sources said most of the stone-pelters were arrested from Baramulla and Sopore towns in North Kashmir followed by parts of Old City, Barzulla, Natipora, Chanapora and Bagh-e-Mehtab. Around 15 stone-pelters were detained in Sopore town only and among them was a youth who would travel all the way from Baramulla to indulge in these activities to avoid detection by the police, a senior police official said. Most of the youth detained by police are in the age group of 15 to 20 years but also includes some who are 12 to 13 years old The markets in Srinagar city and other parts of the Valley came to life today after 10 days of street protests and security forces' action, which left 11 persons dead since June 11, the sources said. Shops, business establishments, banks and even some private schools opened today despite Sunday being a holiday. The private schools opened to make up for some of the lost time due to the strikes called by the separatists and restrictions imposed by the authorities over the past two weeks. Residents of the city were seen busy buying groceries and eatables in larger quantities than usual in view of the schedule for agitation issued by hard line faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani for next week. The ATMs of various banks in the city witnessed a huge rush as people wanted to withdraw money enough to last them at least the next 10 days as political observers here apprehend that disturbances in the Valley might continue till July 13, when the Valley observes the martyrs' day in respect of those killed in firing in 1931. Geelani-led Hurriyat has called for a march to Anantnag tomorrow to protest against the killing of the three youth in security forces' firing on Tuesday and for expressing solidarity with the people of the south Kashmir town. The separatist outfit has asked the students to hold protests on Tuesday while mass protests are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday followed by a shutdown on Friday. However, the normalcy in the Valley might last just for a day as senior security forces officials meet here late in the evening to chalk out a strategy for foiling the march to Anantnag called by the separatists, the sources said. They said it is very likely that the authorities will impose restrictions on the movement of the people and deploy police and CRPF in large numbers to prevent the people from pouring on the streets. The authorities will not hesitate to prolong the restrictions if there is any apprehension that public peace will be disturbed and law and order situation can deteriorate, the sources said. An official spokesman said life returned to normal and the situation in Baramulla and Sopore towns remained peaceful today, as no untoward incident was reported from any part of the twin towns. The district administration had made adequate arrangements for making all the essential services functional in these towns. Despite gazetted holiday today, all ration depots remained opened for the convenience of the people. Large queues of people were seen in front of the ration depots, who came out in large number to make purchase of essential commodities. Markets were flooded with people as usual and traffic plied normally on all the routes. Elsewhere, authorities relaxed curfew in Anantnag town for couple of hours but had to clamp down the restrictions again within one hour as mobs gathered at several places and started pelting stones at security forces. Meanwhile, militants hurled a grenade on a CRPF bunker at Saraf Kadal in the old city but failed to cause any damage, the sources said. The ultras lobbed the grenade at the picket of 44 Battalion CRPF which exploded by the roadside, the sources said adding there was no damage.