Protests,clashes In South Kashmir

Protests,clashes In South Kashmir

28 February 2013
Greater Kashmir
Khalid Gul

Srinagar: On the call of Mutaihida Majlis-e-Mashawarat (MMM), a united group of separatist leaders, sporadic protests erupted in south Kashmir areas on Thursday. Reports said huge contingent of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) forces were deployed in all major towns of south Kashmir to foil any protests. However, despite restrictions, protest demonstrations were held in various towns. In Shopian town, a massive protest demonstration was organized. Reports said that people assembled near Jamia Masjid and organized a protest. Chanting pro-freedom slogans, the protesters were seeking the return of the body of Muhammad Afzal Guru. The protesters, carrying placards and wearing black arm-bands, marched through various areas of the town and finally the protest culminated at Gole Chowk. In Kulgam town, as soon as protestors started to march they were dispersed by police and CRPF. “Some people tried to take out a peaceful procession from the Astan Mohalla area of Kulgam town. However they were dispersed by police and CRPF personnel,” reports said. They said that following the incident, the shops and other business establishments were shut down in some areas of the town and the deployment was further strengthened. In Pulwama town, the protesters after being dispersed by the forces resorted to stone pelting and the clashes continued for more than an hour. “The protesters clashed with police and CRPF contingents in Muran Chowk and Bus Stand area of Pulwama town,” eyewitnesses said. Heavy deployment of forces was also witnessed in Tral, Awantipora, Pampore and Rajpora towns of Pulwama district. In Islamabad (Anantnag) and Bijbehara towns, police and CRPF men wearing riot gears and armed with sticks were seen deployed in the volatile areas to foil any attempt of protests. However, normal life remained unaffected as shops, business establishments and offices remained open and traffic plied normally. The protest demonstrations were part of the week-long protest programme announced by MMM. Meanwhile the MMM thanked the people of South Kashmir for staging protests against the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru and seeking back his mortal remains. It also urged the people to make strike and protest call for Friday a success. “We appeal the people to stage strong protests after Friday prayers and raise their voice in favour of the return of the remains of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru,” said a MMM spokesman in a statement issued here. The MMM urged the local Imams to throw light on the martyrdom of Guru and Bhat in their Friday sermons. The Majlis urged people to follow the already-announced program for Saturday and Sunday. No restrictions today: Div Com Meanwhile, despite the MMM call for valley-wide strike and protests on Friday, the state government Thursday said it would not impose any kind of restrictions on movement of people. “We don’t intend to impose any kind of curfew or restrictions in any part of the valley on Friday,” Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Asghar Samoon told local news gathering agency KNS. “However, depending upon the situation, if we need to take any preventive measures, we will see.” GKNN ADDS: Police however differed with the Div Com’s assertion. In the wake of strike call for the return of the body of Muhammad Afzal Guru, a top police official said in view of Friday and congregational prayers, restrictions would be imposed in sensitive areas. He said they apprehend protests after Friday prayers. “There are certain areas in the valley where people might take to streets after Friday prayers. In Srinagar, the protests can erupt in old city,” he said and added that areas like Nowhatta may be put under restrictions. The official said there would be police deployment in every part of the valley to thwart any protest demonstration. “Every measure would be taken to maintain law and order,” he said.