Boy’s death: Srinagar on edge for day three | india | Hindustan Times
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Boy’s death: Srinagar on edge for day three

A motorbike round of Srinagar's downtown area by the Hindustan Times brings to the forth a ghost town's image. Spontaneous shutdown and severe imposition of "undeclared" curfew for the second consecutive day today kept protests, over killing of a school boy on Friday afternoon, by and large at bay.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2010 19:37 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

A motorbike round of Srinagar's downtown area by the Hindustan Times brings to the forth a ghost town's image. Spontaneous shutdown and severe imposition of "undeclared" curfew for the second consecutive day on Sunday kept protests, over killing of a school boy on Friday afternoon, by and large at bay.

Though a few skirmishes between small mask-wearing mobs and security forces were on in several areas. Dozens of angry stone-hurling protesters continue to be behind the bars in the two-day clampdown by the police, on even Sunday.

An HT reporter started motorbike ride of Srinagar's downtown area from Hawal, the spot is half-a-kilometre away from sports stadium, Ghani Memorial Stadium, Rajouri Kadal, where the Class XII boy, Tufail Ahmad Matoo (17), was allegedly killed in police action against stone throwers on Friday afternoon demonstrations.

Soldiers wearing riot-gear and fingers on weapons' trigger stay alert around the street corners facing alleys of small colonies, expecting stone-pelting youths.

Shouts are raised at a lone passerby to inquire his purpose of being on the road at Rajouri Kadal.

"Kahan jana hai, Kyun (where are you going? Why?)," shouted a soldier at an old Rajouri Kadal resident.

"To but milk and bread for our tea," the resident replied meekly.

There is a common refrain among the residents at Nowhatta, Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Safa Kadal, Naveed Kadal, Zaina Kadal, Habba Kadal, Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowshera and other areas.

"We are beaten up early in the morning when we try to venture out for milk and other essentials. This is to instill fear and to confine us to our homes only," said Zahoor Ahmad, a Bohri Kadal resident.

Spread over 5 km square area, Srinagar's downtown streets are manned by heavy deployment of soldiers in riot-gear and vehicles mounted with teargas guns.

Nowhatta, the centre of the downtown areas, is the hub of separatist supporters and also a bastion of All Parties Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Most lanes emerging from congested areas are blocked by concertina wires with razor-sharp edges. Every movement of civilian is chased away by baton waving soldiers accompanied by shouts.

"We have been able to calm situation in most of the areas today. We tried to relax Section 144 (not allowing assemblage of more than four persons simultaneously) and allow people to move," SSP Srinagar Riyaz Bedar told the Hindustan Times.

The SSP's office has being receiving calls from many people whose wedding was scheduled on Sunday, urging the police to allow movement of grooms and brides.

"This is marriage season. We are allowing marriage cavalcade to move," said SSP Bedar. Due to unfolding situation in the backdrop of the youth's killing, many marriage parties have been cancelled by residents.

The SSP said dozens of marriages are slated for Monday and Tuesday.

"We are reviewing the situation and a decision on whether to relax security or not will be taken tomorrow," Bedar told the HT.

With Chautha (fourth remembrance day) of Matoo scheduled for Tuesday, Srinagar city, police sources said, will witness restriction on the coming days too.

Hardline All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) head Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani has given a Kashmir bandh call for Monday. He also has urged people to assemble at the youth's house.

"The restrictions will continue and no one will be allowed to hold protest demonstrations," said Mehraj Kakroo, Srinagar's deputy commissioner.

At Khanyar, just 2 km away from slain youth's colony at Saida Kadal, security forces ensure only three-wheelers carrying patients are allowed to move after thorough questioning.

Window panes of houses and cars stand smashed at Naidyar, Rainawari.

"Security forces chased a small group of protesters and banged windows. I am lodging an FIR. At slightest provocation, they (security forces) have damaged dozens of cars in the area," said upset Hanief Ahmad, whose car was damaged in the CRPF action.

Despite severe restrictions, angry-youth engaged security forces at more than six places in downtown. Emerging from alleys, protesters pelted stones at an army convoy on a highway near Tengpora, Bemina. Four demonstrators, including one from far off Kargil area, were arrested by the police.

"One cannot stay off guard. Situation continues to be volatile. We are taking necessary action to control the situation," said a Deputy Superintendent of Police posted at Bemina.

But uptown streets like Rajbagh, Wazir Bagh, Rambagh, Peerbagh and Barzulla, life was returning to normalcy and thin traffic was observed without restrictions.

Anger against police cover-up and disproportionate use of tear-gas shells and bullets, however, continue to simmer.

"We want justice. How can policemen who killed the boy go scot-free? They have to be hanged, otherwise will kill more innocent people," said Amir Ahmad, relative of slain Matoo, while offering prayers at Shaheed Mazaar on the grave of Matoo.