Kashmir Shuts Against 'Pandit Townships'

11 April 2015
Greater Kashmir
Shabir ibn Yusuf

Srinagar: Normal life across Kashmir was affected on Saturday due to strike called by separatists to protest against Government's proposal of establishing townships for Kashmiri migrant Pandits in various areas of Kashmir. The strike call was given by Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq , Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik and other groups. The call was supported by Chairman United Jihad Council and Hizbul Mujahideen Supreme Commander Syed Salah-ud-din. Markets and other business establishments remained closed in Srinagar while public transport was largely off the roads. Similar reports poured in from other district headquarters of Kashmir. The attendance in Government offices, schools and banks was also reported thin because of non-availability of public transport. Apprehending protests, the authorities deployed heavy contingents of police and Central Reserve Police Force in all major towns of Kashmir. The authorities said that no untoward incident was reported from any part of Kashmir and the day passed off peacefully. The effect of the strike was more in the rural areas of central, south and north Kashmir and reports said traffic was not plying even on inter-district roads. Most of the roads in Srinagar were deserted and huge contingents police and CRPF forces were witnessed patrolling the streets to thwart any protest demonstration against Government's proposal. To thwart any protest demonstration, the authorities blocked most of the entry points of old Srinagar. Armored vehicles were also deployed at some road junctions. In the Budgam and Ganderbal districts of central Kashmir, the strike paralyzed the normal life. Shops and other business establishments in these districts remained closed and transport was off the roads. Reports of complete strike were received from north Kashmir's Bandipora, Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara and Handwara areas. South Kashmir's districts of Islamabad (Anantnag), Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam also observed a complete shutdown. Business establishments, government offices and educational institutions remained closed and traffic in these districts remained off the roads, reports said. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilani, said there were no restrictions imposed in any part of the valley on people's movement and no curbs were put in place. 'There were no restrictions in place. Only adequate security arrangements were made to curb any law and order problems.' In the evening, Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik thanked the people of Kashmir for observing complete strike. 'While people of Kashmir would welcome the return of Kashmiri Pandits, today's strike showed the world that separate settlements on the basis of religion won't be allowed in Kashmir,' they said in separate statements. On Friday, protests broke out in various areas of Kashmir against Government's proposal of establishing 'composite townships' for Kashmiri migrant Pandits. In Maisuma area of Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir around 30 persons including a dozen policemen were injured in clashes. JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik was arrested along with his dozen party men, however he was released later in the evening.