The apple town of Sopore, around 45 km north of summer capital Srinagar, observed a complete shutdown in response to the call of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani against the killing of two sisters by militants a few days ago.
Asifa and Akhtara were killed on Monday night in Muslim peer locality after gunmen forced the two out of their home. Police claimed that the two were killed by militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayeeba but the outfit in a statement denied any involvement blaming “Indian agencies” for the killings.
The veteran leader had given a call of shutdown after people on Thursday assembled in Pratap Park of city centre Lalchowk “deploring the Geelani’s silence over the killings”.
On Friday however a rally by women, although with a very limited number of participants, was organized in the main Chowk Sopore denouncing the killings.
By and large Sopore was calm but shops and business establishments were shut and traffic on the roads was thin.
“There is huge presence of security forces on the roads. All the main roads connecting the town with other towns are being manned by men in uniform,” said a resident on phone.
“Sopore remained peaceful. There was a protest rally in the town which dispersed peacefully,” Police chief of the town, Altaf Khan said.
Geelani had also called for protests against the killings after Friday prayers across other districts and towns of valley. However there was a poor response to the call in rest of the valley.
A group of people, not more than 30 in number, however gathered in Sheri Kashmir Park in Lalchowk wanting government as well as separatist leaders to make sure that such incidents don’t repeat in future.
“We are scared. Government as well as other leaders should make sure that we live in an atmosphere, free of such incidents,” a class 10th student, Shabnum said, claiming to be from Sopore.
A protest was also organized by Women wing of hard-line Hurriyat Conference under the chairmanship of Zamrooda Habib in press enclave Lalchowk against the killings.