Strike, restrictions paralyse life in Kashmir for 3rd day

Strike, restrictions paralyse life in Kashmir for 3rd day

27 June 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Spontaneous strike was observed in Kashmir valley with curfew like restrictions in parts of Srinagar as tension over the gutting of the revered shrine of Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani in Khanyar area of Srinagar continued to prevail in the Valley for third consecutive day today. Around 30 people, including 7 policemen, were injured in clashes at several places across Kashmir valley. In the meantime, the caretaker of the shrine, Syed Khalid Geelani, displayed before the media the holy relics that were retrieved from the gutted shrine on Monday. He said that all the relics were safely retrieved from the gutted shrine. These include holy hair of Dastageer Sahib, a document of Hazrat Ali (RA) on which the stamp of prophet Mohammad (SAW) is affixed, pages of holy Quran written by Hazrat Abu-Bakar Sidiq (RA) and 200 years old hand written holy Quran. Jeelani on the occasion said that the relics will be displayed before the devotees during the Urs as per past practice. He said all the relics are safe and intact. Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Bashir-ud-Din, today called for two days strike beginning from tomorrow to mourn the gutting of the shrine, while the Union Minister for Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Member Parliament Karan Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee President, Saifudin Soz visited the gutted shrine today. After the District Magistrate Srinagar, Baseer Khan, last evening imposed restrictions under Section 144 on the movement of public and transport in 6 police stations areas in the Srinagar city for indefinite period, entire old city was under siege today. These include areas falling under the Police Station of Khanyar, Nowhatta, MR Gunj, Rainawari, Safakadal and Kralkhud. Police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed in riot control gear in the sensitive areas of the city. No one was allowed to come out or go inside the restricted areas as police had barricaded the roads with concertina wire. However, there was no curfew in the civil lines area of the city but the police and CRPF were deployed in full strength across Kashmir valley's major towns to prevent any violence. But clashes between police and protesters broke out at several places across Kashmir in which 30 people were injured. Clashes broke out between stone throwing youth and police at Rambagh, Solina, Zakura and Bemina localities. Around 10 people were injured in these clashes. Reports of clashes also poured from old town Baramulla where 10 people including 5 policemen were injured and police have arrested 5 protesters. Clashes also broke out in South Kashmir's Anantnag town at Cheeni Chowk, Mattan Chowk, Lal Chowk, Janglat Mandi and Khanbal. Two policemen and around half a dozen protesters were reportedly injured in Anantnag. A complete mourning shutdown was observed in Srinagar city and other parts of Kashmir valley today. However, there was no call for any strike. The strike was spontaneous. This is for the third consecutive day that the entire Kashmir valley is shut to mourn the gutting of the revered shrine. Yesterday entire Kashmir valley was shut in response to a strike called by the United Forum of Islamic Scholars (Muthida Majlis-e-Ulam J&K). It was supported by both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference, JKLF, UJC and Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association. Shops, business establishments, educational institutions and public transport remained off the roads. Attendance in banks, post offices and Government offices was thin because of the restrictions and non-availability of public transport in the city. The grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Bashir-ud-Din, today while addressing a press conference in Srinagar called for two day strike beginning from tomorrow to mourn the gutting of the shrine. Mufti asked the State Government to come out with a statement as to why the mopping up operation at the gutted shrine was carried out in a hush-hush manner. He accused Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, of issuing clandestine directions for destruction of evidence at the shrine. Mufti while describing it a great conspiracy, demanded that security around the shrine across Kashmir should be beefed up. Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad visited the gutted shrine and took stock of the damage caused to it. While expressing grief over the fire incident, he termed it unfortunate. Azad complimented the efforts of caretaker of the shrine, Syed Khalid Geelani and others for displaying courage in protecting the sacred relics. He said that he used to pay an obeisance at the shrine from the time when he was a student at S P College, Srinagar. He expressed solidarity with the people of the valley on this tragic incident and hoped that work on new building of the shrine will be started soon. He asked people to maintain peace and harmony at this time of grief. Dr Karan Singh who also visited the gutted shrine told the management there that he was grieved over the fire incident. He said that he will not allow hurting of the religious sentiments of the people. He said that some vested interests spread rumours and want sectarian clashes in Kashmir which won't be allowed. 'We will ask the Chief Minister to immediately start the re-construction of the shrine', he added. Singh said that Peer is one of spiritual personalities of Kashmir and expressed solidarity with the people of the valley on the occasion and appealed them to maintain peace and amity. Prof Saifuddin Soz also visited the gutted shrine at Khanyar and offered obeisance. He was accompanied by Mohammad Muzaffar Parray, Senior Vice President, Gulam Nabi Monga Vice President, Dr.Sayeed Ahmad Secretary JKPCC and many Congress party workers. He examined the damage caused to the shrine. Soz thanked the caretaker of the shirne Syed Khalid Geelani and Ghulam Nabi Khan and others on behalf of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and on his behalf for protecting the sacred relics through a great personal effort. Prof Soz told the gathering, particularly caretaker, Mutawalies and others, present on this occasion that the functionaries of the Congress party, individually and collectively would join the people to restore the shrine to its original glory. Prof Soz also appealed the people that inspite of anxiety in their heart and mind due to damage to the shrine, they must allow the Government to explain facts to the people as also start efforts towards restoration of the premises. Prof Soz appealed the people of the locality present on the occasion that their individual complaints would also be looked into properly and all kinds of grievances will be removed.