SRINAGAR: The local police and Central paramilitaries in riot gear on Friday enforced curfew-like restrictions in Kashmiri capital Srinagar to hold back ‘aazadi’ march on the summer headquarters of the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) along City’s high-security Gupkar Road.
A day ago, posters from an obscure group had appeared in Srinagar and some other parts of the Valley asking people to march on the UNMOGIP office to demand freedom.
The security forces overnight sealed all roads leading to UNMOGIP office by laying Concertina barbed wire and placing bu-nker-vehicles on these.
Srinagar’s historic central square Lal Chowk was also sealed again in similar fashion.
The remaining parts of Srinagar including those where restrictions had been lifted or eased a few days ago also witnessed re-imposition of curbs on the movement of people on Friday. Other Valley towns too remained under security lockdown.
The authorities said that the restrictions were strictly enforced in parts of the Valley including Srinagar “as a precautionary measure” in view of ‘UNMOGIP chalo’ call issued by “miscreants”.
On the third consecutive Friday, no congregations were allowed in Srinagar’s Grand Mosque and other major places of Muslim worship. However, people could offer Friday namaz in locality mosques. At places, slogan-chanting crowds held protests against the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories after the prayers, the witnesses said.
In the afternoon, hundreds of men and women emerged of Srinagar’s Anchar, Soura area in a procession but were soon met by security forces who fired teargas canisters to push them back into dark alleys. The protesters, carrying green and black flags and also Pakistan’s national flag and that of the PoK, were chanting pro-freedom slogans.
Subsequently, the area witnessed ding-dong battles between stone-pelting mobs and security forces. Several people were injured in the use of teargas and pellet firing, the witnesses said.
Sabeena Jan (name changed), a resident of Anchar while speaking to visiting reporters accused the police of arresting people randomly. “During past couple of weeks anybody and everybody from our area is being harassed by the police. Many innocent youth from Anchar have been arrested,” he alleged.
A middle-aged resident who refused to disclose his name said, “Let (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi know that the people of Kashmir will not take it (scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcating the State) lying down. We will fight it out. We’re ready to sacrifice our lives to save our identity, our honour.”
While he was making this statement before media persons, a crowd which had assembled on the spot yelled ‘Go India, go back’ and ‘we want freedom’....