Separatists shutdown call against alleged continued incarceration of youth, including minors, and political leaders who participated in last year's street protests paralysed normal life in Kashmir valley with most districts observing a strike.
The call for shutdown was issued by hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani who alleged that political prisoners and minors were being maltreated by the jail authorities in Amphla and Kot Balwal.
The day witnessed a very thin traffic on roads, restricting movement of office going officials and school heading students. Vert few private schools, like Delhi Public School, functioned normally but the rest could not operate as per routine. Work at banks, government offices and petrol pumps were also disturbed. Private offices and shops were also closed at Srinagar's commercial head Lal Chowk.
"We were alert all day to ensure no street protest takes place. There was no report of any major violence from across the valley," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
The police on made an attempt to prevent any shutdown by circulating a press release that claimed no minor was behind the bars in the state.
"Out of 51 cases only 38 were from Kashmir valley. Majority of the detainees were involved in unlawful activities and have been released on bail except for few cases involving murder. No minor from Kashmir is detained in any jail. If there are some, they must be in juvenile homes," said Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range, Abdul Ghani Mir
"Majority of the arrestees were involved in crimes including theft, eve teasing, violation of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, murder, kidnapping, rape and other crimes," Mir said.
In its statement, the Hurriyat accused the police of hoodwinking people through "false propaganda".
"The police statement is aimed at sidelining the main issue of maltreatment of political prisoners by the jail authorities in Jammu. Two, around 1,000 political prisoners continue to languish in several jails of India," said a Hurriyat spokesman.
The spokesman thanked people for ensuring a strict shutdown against the human rights abuses.
The police, however, continued to describe Hurriyat call a propaganda. "Majority of these alleged minors are already bailed out, which exposes the sinister designs of separatists (for calling strike)...to malign the image of the state and police, these Hurriyat leaders stoop low to portray rapists, thieves, rogues, gamblers, drug peddlers, eve teasers and murderers as political prisoners," said Mir.
Reacting to the day-long bandh called by the Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led All Party Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir valley, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) denied having termed 51 juveniles as "political prisoners" in its report.
ACHR Director Suhas Chakma said in New Delhi that the human rights body's report, "Juveniles of Jammu and Kashmir: Unequal before the Law & Denied justice in Custody" released on November 16, described the cases of 51 juveniles as "juvenile cases being tried in normal courts in J&K" and not as "political prisoners".
He also condemned the alleged beating of the journalists covering the protests.
"ACHR made no comment on the merits of these cases. ACHR only highlighted the absence of the juvenile justice in Jammu and Kashmir – a fact clearly stated by India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development which in its 2010-2011 Annual Report called upon the J&K State Government to amend the Jammu & Kashmir Juvenile Justice Act, 1997 and 2007 Rules to bring them at par with the Central Act," Chakma said.
Meanwhile, the police have claimed that violence broke out in dowtown Srinagar after Friday prayers when several youth started throwing stones at security forces. Several journalists were injured during the clashes.
"Some miscreants resorted to stone pelting at Saraf Kadal area of down town Srinagar. Police exercised maximum restraint in spite of grave provocations and to quell the mob chased the miscreants and in the ensuing melee, some photo journalists who had intermingled with the crowd to cover this subversive activity, got trampled down by the fleeing miscreants," said a police spokesman.
Photo journalists however claimed they were targeted by the security forces and police.
The police have picked up several boys from the locality where the stone pelting took place.