Curfew In Srinagar; Teargassing, Cane-charge On Tazia Processions

Curfew In Srinagar; Teargassing, Cane-charge On Tazia Processions

14 November 2013
Kashmir Times
Syed Yasir

Srinagar: Curfew was imposed in most parts of civil lines area of Srinagar city today to prevent people from participating in Muharram procession expect to start from Shaheed Gunj to Dalgate. Despite the curfew and restrictions, scores of people tried to lead Tazia processions at Shaheed Gunj and Karan Naga area of Srinagar city. However, their attempt was foiled by police and CRPF by firing smoke shells and resorted to lathi-charge. Around three dozen people got injured in police action and around 200 were also detained by police. They were lodged in different police stations of the city. The clashes started afternoon, when a group of youths from Shaheed Gunj locality, disobey the curfew and tried to lead a Tazia procession towards Dalgate. When the youths reached near Jehangir Chowk flyover, they were stopped by a large contingent of police and CRPF. The youths showed resistance and tried to process towards Lal Chowk; the police used batons and fired dozens of smoke shells to disperse the procession. The numbers of youths were also taken into custody by police. A similar procession was taken out from the nearby Karan Nagar areas, which were also trying to proceed towards Lal Chowk. The police fired smoke shells to disperse them. The police action irritated them and they pelted stones and bricks and stones towards the police. Reports said more than two dozens people including some policemen got injured in the incident. However, after stiff resistance, the police managed to control the situation. A video journalist Hilal Ahmad Bhat of ANI news agency got injured, when a speedy police vehicle hit him and he was shifted to hospital in a critical condition. The normal life was crippled in parts of Srinagar after authorities imposed curfew and restriction in elsewhere Srinagar to foil the traditional processions in Lal Chowk. All roads leading to the city center Lal Chowk were blocked with additional personnel of police and CRPF deployed at sensitive locations including Lal Chowk, Jahangir Chowk, Maisuma, Kothibagh, Kralkhud, M R Gunj, Haba Kadal, Safa Kadal, Nowhatta, Ram Munshi Bagh, Dalgate and Khanyar areas. In five police station areas Kothibagh, Maisuna, Batamaloo, Shergarhi and Shaheedgunj curfew was imposed to thwart any attempt to carry out processions. The police laid barricades and spools of concertina wire at Jahangir Chowk, Radio Kashmir and all intersections to prevent the movement of vehicles and pedestrians towards the city center. Some media persons also alleged they were barred to pass the barricades and the Press Cards were not honored at Jahangir Chowk. Shops and business establishments remained closed while traffic was off the roads. Armored vehicles were parked at all entry points to Lal Chowk. The Ashura procession would traditionally start from Guru Bazar and Shaheed Gunj areas of the Srinagar’s downtown and pass through Maulana Azad Road and Residency Road to end at Dalgate. However, for the last more than 20 years, authorities have disallowed Muharram processions in uptown areas while smaller congregations in localities of downtown Srinagar and in the outskirts are allowed. Business activities and pedestrian movement also remained suspended in Lal Chowk, adjacent Maisuma, Residency Road and several old city areas. Police and CRPF personnel were also deployed along the banks of river Jhelum to prevent people from reaching Lal Chowk using boats. The schools and other educational institutions, courts and business establishments in and around the curfew bound areas remained closed. District Magistrate Srinagar Farooq Ahmed Shah said that Curfew was imposed in seven police station areas of the city as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident. “The restrictions on the movement of people have been imposed as there was an apprehension of law and order problem in lieu of some groups planning to take out Muharram processions,” he said.