JEHANGIR ALI | 28 JUNE, 2015
KASHMIR IN TURMOIL, SLIPPING OUT OF MUFTI CONTROL
Protests a day in Kashmir Valley (courtesy Deccan Chronicle)
SRINAGAR: Anger is growing against Mufti Sayeed-led coalition government in J&K over the 'desecration' of the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar by security forces and the arrest of a Kashmir University student last week.
Police fired aerial shots to break protests in many parts of downtown Srinagar on Saturday following the strike call by the Hurriyat against the desecration. Shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, angry youth fought pitched battles with forces in many parts of downtown city including Habba Kadal, Nowhatta and Maisuma on Saturday.
The protests later spread to many parts of uptown city including Bagh-e-Mehtab and Jehangir Chowk where youth fought ding-ding battles with police throughout the day while forces used live fire, teargas and baton charge at these places to quell the protests.
A youth identified as Sahil Ahmad, son of Zahoor Ahmad, of Nowhatta, suffered severe injuries when cops fired pellet grenades near the Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta to disperse the protestors. He was taken to SMHS Hospital for treatment.
Kashmir's chief cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had announced his decision to lead a protest march against the desecration of Jamia Masjid but he was put under house arrest Friday late evening by the state government.
A complete shutdown was observed in the city against the police action at Jamia Masjid where teargas shells were fired inside the mosque's main prayer hall by forces on Friday to control protests that had erupted against the arrest of a student at The University of Kashmir on Friday.
Police had used live fire to disperse protesters at the university who were demanding the release of their colleague, Muzamil Ahmad Dar, a third semester student of English department who was arrested on Monday by police for "militancy links."
The police action at the two places sparked widespread condemnation from political parties, civil society and religious groups as well as the separatist leaders who targeted the Mufti Sayeed-led coalition government for "bowing" before its increasingly assertive coalition partner, the BJP.
Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad hit out at the security forces for their action at the Jamia Masjid. "I am pained to read that teargas shells have been directly fired inside the grand mosque (Jamia Masjid) of Kashmir," he said.
Senior PDP leader and Member of Parliament, Tariq Hameed Karra also condemned the "unwarranted police action", "The police personnel involved in this sacrilegious act should be taken to task. The police seem to have become an authority unto itself in Kashmir especially after the 2010 unrest as none of the cops had to face legal action for the killing of civilians on the streets of the Valley," he said in a statement.
Following Friday’s violent clashes in Nowhatta area, the state government had transferred SDPO Khanyar, Parvaiz Ahmad to Udhampur while senior Hurriyat leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah and JKLF chief Yasin Malik called for shutdown in Srinagar to protest the police action.
Dar was detained by police Monday evening and, egged by the rising intensity of the protests, JK Police owned the arrest two days later on Thursday, saying that Dar had "militant links". Violence had broken out on the campus on Thursday following which the Varsity administration suspended classwork for two days, which was extended till June 30 on Saturday.
Besides, students from far-flung areas staying in hostels were also asked to leave the campus. The girl students alleged that the KU provost reportedly abused them before throwing them out of their rooms.