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Shutdown cripples life in Srinagar

A total shutdown and restrictions on civilian movement crippled life in Kashmir on Wednesday, report Rashid Ahmad & Aliya Bashir.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2009 23:57 IST
Rashid Ahmad & Aliya Bashir

A total shutdown and restrictions on civilian movement crippled life in Kashmir on Wednesday. Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference had called the strike in protest against the killing of two youth allegedly by the army at Bomai near Sopore in north Kashmir on Saturday.

On the killing of the youth, the state government has already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. The army authorities initially gave conflicting versions, but finally ordered a “high-level court of inquiry”.

Defence spokesperson Col Uma Maheshwar first said unknown gunmen, masquerading as soldiers, fired upon the youth. But a later statement said the civilians had been caught in crossfire.

A virtual siege was laid around Srinagar on Wednesday, plugging all the entry points. No vehicle or pedestrian was allowed to enter the city. The authorities also deployed police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel to handle demonstrations, besides imposing curbs on civilian movement.

But protestors defied the restrictions at several places in Srinagar and Sopore and took out protest demonstrations and clashed with the police. Around a dozen people were injured.

The police fired tear gas shells at Bhagat, Batamaloo, Ram Bagh and Natipora in Srinagar to chase away the protestors. As the protestors retaliated with stones and bricks, police fired aerial shots to disperse them.

In all this, the common man was the worst affected since no official measure was taken to inform the people about the restrictions on civilian movement as it was an unofficial curfew.

Gulzar Ahmad, a resident of Rajouri Kadal in the old city in Sringar, said, “I had to stop my vehicle at several places while taking my pregnant sister to the hospital.”

In a similar incident, Khateeja Akhoon, a resident of Nawa Bazar, said, “The security personnel on the main roads were so rude that they didn’t even allow us visit to a doctor.”

Meanwhile, senior separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, acting chief of Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Ashraf Sahrai, Molvi Abbas, Bilal Gani Lone and some others were placed under house arrest for four days. Mirwaiz was scheduled to address a protest rally at Sopore.

First Published: Feb 25, 2009 23:55 IST