Hundreds of residents in capital Srinagar on Friday took to streets in protest against the alleged demolition of a mosque at the historic Hari Parbat Fort. The protestors clashed with police at several places, causing injuries to over 50 people including some policemen. Four photojournalists including Hindustan Times photographer Farooq Ahmad Khan and ANI reporter Parvaiz Ahmad were also injured in the daylong clashes between police and the protestors.
Police took around two dozen protestors, majority of them activists and functionaries of Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference, which had called for protest demonstrations, into custody.
The day dawned with dozens of youth occupying streets at Nowhatta and surrounding localities near Jamia Masjid. Shouting anti government slogans, they pelted on plying vehicles forcing police to come into action. Police resorted to cane charge to disperse the agitating youth. However they retaliated by pelting stones and bricks. Police fired tear smoke shells. Several persons including a reporter of ANI were injured in the clashes that lasted till noon.
The protests again rocked the city after Friday prayers even at a wider scale. Hundreds of protestors took out a procession from Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers, raising slogans against government. The protestors had a prolonged battle with police as the later tried to prevent them proceeding ahead. The Nowhatta presented the picture of an arena as the angry youth refused to give any respite to police. They hurled stones and bricks on police from various directions causing injuries to several policemen. Photojournalists Farooq Ahmad Khan (Hindustan Times), Qazi Irshad (Kashmir Times) and Javaid Dar (Kashmir Images) Irshad Ahmad (AFP) were also hit by the raining projectiles, causing injuries to them. The clashes brought the normal life in the most parts of the old city to a halt. The business establishments were closed and traffic remained off the roads. Police took around a dozen protestors into custody.
Police used force to disperse a protest rally at Hyderpora by resorting to cane charge. They also took around a dozen activists and functionaries of Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference including Malik Noor Fayaz, personal secretary of Syed Ali Geelani, into custody.
The tension began to build in the valley after local residents found a mosque inside the historic Hari Parbat Fort “missing” and a temple and a Gurdwara intact on April 18, when the Fort was thrown open to the public after remaining under use of security forces for the past 17 years of militancy. The religious groups decried that the mosque was allegedly demolished. Even the authorities immediately again closed the Fort for the public the damage however was already done. The hard-line faction of All Party Hurriyat Conference condemned the “mosque demolition” as an offensive act and asked people to take to streets in protest. The department of Archives, Archeology and Museums, which overlooks the state monuments however dismissed the allegation of mosque demolition and said that the renovation and restoration of mosque was would be taken into hand soon.