Protest, clashes mar Valley after Friday prayers
Protests and clashes were reported from different parts of Kashmir on Friday. The joint resistance leadership had called for protests after congregational prayers against the use of force on civilians in South Kashmir’s Shopian district during a massive anti-militancy operation on Thursday.
Authorities had deployed large contingent of forces personnel in restive parts of Valley to maintain peace and order. Separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani and Shabir Shah continued to remain under house arrest while to prevent Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from leading a protest demonstration after Friday prayers in downtown Srinagar, authorities placed him under house arrest. However, he was released 15 minutes before the congregational prayers.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that earlier he was placed under house arrest but was released 15 minutes before the congregational prayers.
Reports said that a large number of youth hit to roads and clashed with government forces in Nowhatta Srinagar. Police used some tear-smoke shells to stop protesters from throwing rocks at them. The clashed continued for hours, disrupting vehicular movement on the roads.
In Soura area of the city, a peaceful protest march was organized shortly after the Friday congregational prayers. The protesters raised pro-freedom slogans.
Pro-freedom protest was also reported from Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. A large number of people hit to roads after Friday congregational prayers at Beehama Chowk and staged pro-freedom protest.
Reports from North Kashmir’s Baramulla district said that scores of students of Government Higher Secondary School staged a protest in Bomai village of Sopore town. Shouting pro-freedom slogans, the students marched towards Police post in Bomai and staged massive protests.
Witnesses said that police used tear gas shells to disperse the students who were throwing rocks, triggering massive clashes in the area.The students were protesting against a police crackdown on a college in Pulwama on April 15 and arrests of students during the subsequent protests.
Students also protested in Hadipora Rafiabad area of Baramulla district. Large number of students hit to roads and clashed with government forces.
Reports from Sopore said that government forces thrashed and abused media persons covering the protest march of people outside Jamia Masjid. Reporters and cameramen working for different media houses staged protest against police seeking action against those responsible for manhandling them. “We were performing our duties when a group of forces personnel pounced upon us. They not only thrashed and abused us but also prevented us from covering the clashes,” said a scribe adding that one of their colleagues whom he identified as Ishant Pir was severely beaten up.
Reports from frontier district Kupwara said that a peaceful protest was staged outside Jamia Masjid after the culmination of Friday congregational prayers. Hundreds of people who raised pro-freedom slogans participated in the peaceful protest. The protesters demanded an end to civilian killings, pellet guns, arrests and search operations.
A peaceful protest was held in Kaprin area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district. Witnesses told CNS that a large number of people organized a protest rally from Jamia Masjid Kaprin that culminated peacefully at local grave yard where people offered prayer in favour of slain militants. The protest rally was headed by separatist leader Abdul Samad Inqalabi.
A police official said that barring stray incidents of stone-pelting the situation remained peaceful across Valley.
(With inputs from Bilal Ahmad)