Without any prior announcement, several areas in Srinagar were placed under curfew-like restrictions on Friday morning, throwing the normal life out of gear. Restrictions on movement was imposed in the wake of Muharam processions being carried out by separatists, protests over Gaza situation and apprehensions over the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's future. Restrictions flared up the tempers leading to protests at many places.
Three policemen and a woman were injured when some miscreants pelted stones on police deployments near in Batamaloo.
Srinagar district commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan had ordered restrictions on the movement of public and transport in six police stations in the city. "The restrictions would be imposed from 6 am till further orders," said a government order.
The city residents allege that the government decision to impose restrictions without announcing it through major dailies and government-run television made them suffer. Parents complained schoolgoing children kept waiting for their buses in cold weather for hours together in the morning.
"City schools should have been closed down if the government was planning a siege of the town. Small children in school vans were stuck in traffic mess for hours in morning cold. How insensitive do we get sometimes," said Fiza Sadaf, a mother of two.
Many students appearing for exams, patients and officer-goers were seen pleading for passage before the security forces, manning barricaded roads with concertina wires. The restriction-bound areas led to traffic snarls all day in the city centre, affecting normal course of life.
The elaborate security arrangements were made to stop Muharam procession in and around areas of the commercial hub Lal Chowk. In 1990, the government imposed a ban on Muharam procession in uptown areas because it would turn into anti-India demonstration, with separatists leading these processions and turning into political rallies. The government was apprehensive of Hurriyat leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani leading these processions. However, processions are allowed in lanes of the old city parts of Zadibal.
The security was also on tenterhooks because Geelani had called for demonstrations after Friday prayers to express solidarity with Gaza. Tempers are also running high in the separatist camps following statements being made in Delhi to hang the Parliament attack convict Guru. Geelani and JKLF chief Yasin Malik have warned of dire consequences in case Guru is hanged.
Despite restrictions, there were clashes between protesters and security forces in old city parts, uptown and north Kashmir's Baramulla district.
"There were sporadic incidents of stone pelting at Saraf Kadal and Batamaloo in Srinagar and on Cement Bridge in Baramulla. The police exercised maximum restraint and dispersed the peltors.
However, three policemen and a woman were injured when some miscreants pelted stones on police deployments near in Batamaloo," said a police spokesman in Srinagar zonal headquarters.
Police also arrested a man in Srinagar when he made self-immolation bid and set himself on fire to protest against the government ban on Muharam procession.
Uptown Barazulla area and downtown's Nowpora areas also witnessed protests. People raised slogans and set afire flags of Israel to demonstrate anger over a week long incursions that left more than 100 dead in Gaza.