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Curfew-like situation in Kashmir Valley

india Updated: Apr 30, 2009 11:10 IST

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A curfew-like situation prevailed in Kashmir Valley for the second day on Thursday as authorities further strengthened security to scuttle any attempt by the separatists to disrupt the polls during their strike against holding of elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Security around sensitive areas has been further strengthened as authorities were apprehensive that separatists might try to stage anti-election demonstrations, coinciding with the polling in the third phase of the five-phased elections in Anantnag parliamentary constituency of South Kashmir, official sources said.

Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley yesterday after the 50-hour strike called by chairman of hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani commenced on a violent note on Tuesday evening with groups of youth, chanting anti-poll slogans, clashed with police at several places here.

The moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference had also called for a complete shutdown on Thursday against holding of elections in Anantnag.

Although the day passed off peacefully yesterday, authorities have left nothing to chance and further strengthened the security around sensitive localities of Srinagar and other major towns on Thursday, the sources said.

"No untoward incident was reported from anywhere," a police spokesman said.

Barring Anantnag where polling is in progress, normal life came to a standstill in rest of the valley in view of the strict restrictions imposed by security forces and the general strike sponsored by separatists.

Police and paramilitary personnel were seen driving back people to their homes and patrolling the deserted streets to foil any attempt by separatists to take out processions.

Almost all shops and business establishments, government offices, educational institutions, banks, courts and semi-government establishments are closed and public transport off the roads.

Authorities have placed top separatist leaders under house arrest, while over two dozen second-rung leaders were put behind bars over the past one month.

Geelani is under house arrest since April 12, while chairman of moderate Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was put under house arrest on Tuesday evening. Chairman of JKLF Mohammad Yaseen Malik was placed under house arrest on April 23, shortly after he launched an anti-election campaign.

Prominent among those who were arrested by police include spokesman of hardline Hurriyat Ayaz Akbar.