Street protests returned to Kashmir valley on Eid despite geared up security. Dozens of protesters took to the streets at several parts of the valley, torched a police vehicle and pelted stones at security forces, while raising pro-independence slogans.
Since morning most of the separatist leaders, including Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Shahid-ul-Islam, were put under house arrest and stopped from participating in any Eid congregations. Hurriyat factions' chairmen Miwaiz Umar Farooq, also Kashmir’s head priest, and Syed Ali Shah were also not allowed to lead any prayers. The move was made to stop repeat of the September incident, when a procession led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq turned violent after Eid prayers.
“Stopping the Mirwaiz from offering Eid prayers is a deplorable act. We condemn it in one voice,” said spokesman of the Mutthaheda-Majlis-e-Ulema-(MMU), a conglomerate of religious bodies in Kashmir.
In the morning, protesters assembled after Eid prayers and torched a police vehicle and attacked deputy commissioner’s office in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town, 65 km away from Srinagar. Security forces lobbed tear-gas shells and fired in the air to control the situation.
In Srinagar, security forces resorted to aerial firing in several areas of downtown Srinagar after protesters raised pro-independence slogans and pelted stones at security pickets. In north Kashmir’s Baramulla, Bandipora and Sopore towns, people held demonstrations. In Palhalan, 45 north of Srinagar, tight security arrangements were made to keep protesters at bay.
One policeman and a protester were injured in the protests. “Police exercised maximum restraint while dealing with the situation to avoid any mishap. The miscreants were chased away and situation in all areas was brought to normal,” said a police spokesman.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik, who was allowed to pray, addressed a congregation in Srinagar. “We want to tell the international community that Muslims are not terrorists. After the 9/11 incident, the international community had decided to eradicate terrorism and solve the long pending disputes, including Kashmir, but till date it has failed to deliver,” said Malik.
More than 100 people were killed in the valley unrest in the last five months. The unrest was fuelled by the death of a teenager in police action on June 11. Since then the valley witnessed unprecedented street protests resulting deaths of protesters and bystanders.