The J-K government enforced a curfew in Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar and northern district of Sopore on Saturday to scuttle any attempt by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference supporters to march towards Srinagar’s Tourist Reception Centre’s (TRC) ground. Eight protesters, however, were injured in protests in north Kashmir.
The protest march call was given by Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani as part of its “Quit Kashmir” campaign.
“No major attempt was made to break the curfew and assemble at the TRC ground,” said a senior police officer on the condition of anonymity. However, near Geelani’s residential colony in Hyderpora, a group of protesters tried to proceed towards the TRC ground, which was foiled by a posse of police personnel on duty in Srinagar.
The authorities extended curfew in the morning to north Kashmir’s Tangmarg and Kupwara areas after protesters marched on the streets and pelted stones at soldiers against alleged security forces highhandedness.
“Last night, soldiers of 52 RR of the army barged into residential houses and harassed inmates at Kunzar. We are out to protest against human rights abuses and misbehaviour of security personnel with women folk in the crackdown,” alleged Rahim Parray, a local.
The security forces fired in the air and swung batons to disperse the protesters at Kunzar, 35 km north of Srinagar. Residents of more than eight villages joined the demonstration. Six people were injured and five protesters were arrested during the police action.
“Police used force only after repeated attempts to quell protesters failed,” said a police spokesman.
Curfew was also reimposed in Kupwara district, more than 90 km north of Srinagar, when people of four colonies accused security forces of atrocities last night and clashed with them.
“Besides ransacking the houses in several localities, soldiers misbehaved with women in Darus-salam area (Kupwara),” alleged Rahim Kak, a village elder.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of local residents registered a protest and clashed with security forces. When forces fired tear-gas canisters at protesters, they retaliated with stones.
“Two persons who sustained injuries in the clashes were admitted to the hospital,” said Dr Mohammed Ramzan, deputy medical officer, Kupwara.
Meanwhile, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was on Saturday stopped from holding a religious congregation at Srinagar’s Aali Kadal mosque to observe his father’s anniversary.
“The authorities’ move to stop me from my religious duty shows how shaken the government is. I was not allowed to move from my house today and the mosque was sealed by the security forces,” said the Mirwaiz in a press statement.
The valley on Saturday entered into 77th day of civil strife triggered by the killing of 17-year-old boy by the police. Since then more than 60 people were left dead in 58 days of violent street protests and 53 days of curfews.