Curfew like restrictions in Srinagar

Curfew like restrictions in Srinagar

23 November 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Police today imposed curfew like restrictions in parts of Srinagar, fired tear gas shells and charged batons to disperse hundreds of Shia mourners, who were trying to carry out Muharram procession in Srinagar. Over 50 Shia mourners were detained from various parts of the city. However, majority of them were released in the evening. A youth identified as Mushtaq Ahmad tried to immolate himself against Government ban on Moharram processions in the uptown locality but was saved and removed to hospital for treatment. Early in the morning, police imposed curfew like restrictions in four police Station areas of Kothibagh, Maisuma, Kralkhud and Shaheed Gunj in Srinagar city to thwart any attempt by the Shia community to take out processions following apprehensions that the separatists might convert these religious gatherings into political assembly. Police had apprehensions that separatist groups might attempt to stage anti-national protests during Muharram processions. Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani had also called for protests after Friday prayers against the Israeli air strikes in Gaza and BJP's demand for hanging Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Both the chairmen of moderate and hardline factions of Hurriyat Conference were put under house arrest. Police was heavily deployed outside the residences of moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and chairman of hardline faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani to prevent them from coming out their houses to attend the Friday congregations. Police and para-military Central Reserve Police (CRPF) personnel were deployed in large numbers in Srinagar city to prevent any unlawful activity. The areas under undeclared curfew like restrictions were sealed with concertina wires and movement in these areas was restricted by police and CRPF. The Shia community of the city used to take out processions from Abi Guzar in Kothibagh and Guru Bazaar in Kralkhud areas which culminated at Dalgate in Ram Munshi Bagh area to mark the eighth day of Muharram mourning. Since the 1990s the processions in these localities were banned as authorities feared that militants might attack the processions. To protest the restrictions and ban on processions, Shia mourners clashed with Police at several places this afternoon that led to ding dong battles between stone throwing protesters and police. Batamaloo, Qamarwari, Shaheed Gunj Dalgate, Safa Kadal areas witnessed the dingdong battles as Shia mourners tried to carry out the Muharram procession but police thwarted their move. Over a dozen of mourners were injured as police fired tearsmoke and charged batons on the protesters. A Police spokesman said that three policemen and a lady Haneefa resident of Soibugh, Budgam who was waiting for a bus was injured when some miscreants pelted stones on police deployments near Fire Services crossing in Batamaloo. The spokesman said situation remained largely peaceful barring sporadic incidents of stone pelting at Saraf Kadal, Batamaloo in Srinagar and on Cement Bridge in North Kashmir's Baramulla district. 'Police exercised maximum restraint and dispersed the stone pelters. However, as a precautionary measure, heavy deployments of police were made today at few places in Srinagar', the spokesman added. Shops, offices and business establishments remained closed while traffic remained suspended in the areas falling in these police station areas including the city Centre Lal Chowk. The attendance in Government offices was also very thin and students at many places faced hardships due to the curbs imposed by authorities. Thousands of tourists were stranded inside their hotels as police did not allow their movement.