JEHANGIR ALI | 22 OCTOBER, 2015
Tensions Escalate, Clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir
Curfew in Kashmir (file picture)
SRINAGAR: Amid escalating tensions over the death of a Kashmiri trucker, curfew has been imposed in parts of Kashmir Valley due to deteriorating law and order.
In capital Srinagar, the J&K Police and CRPF personnel Thursday morning set up barricades at many arterial roads around Lal Chowk, the heart of Srinagar city, and some areas in old city, to foil a Shia procession commemorating the Martyrs of Karbala.
A senior J&K Police officer said Section 144 has been imposed in areas falling under four police stations areas of Srinagar city to prevent the procession which is scheduled to start from Abi Guzar near Lal Chowk and culminate at old city's Zadibal locality.
Most of the business establishments and all the educational institutes are closed in Lal Chowk and there is minimal movement of traffic. “Taking the security situation into consideration, we can't allow the procession” IGP Kashmirr, SJM Gilani said.
Police sources said scores of Shia mourners were detained from various parts of Srinagar city when they tried to defy the security forces’ restrictions.
Across the world, Shias mourn the death of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hussein, in the Iraqi city of Karbala in 680 AD. In Kashmir, the Shias used to take out two processions - one each on 8th and 10th of Moharram, to commemorate the martyrdom.
However, authorities imposed a ban of such processions after 1989 when an armed rebellion broke out in the state, citing “law and order" issues, although small rallies and processions are allowed in areas with Shia majority populations.
Officials said the restrictions are harsher this time around because the security agencies fear that the activists of separatist leaders, who have been put under house arrest to foil their plans of visiting Anantnag, may take out protest rallies which can cause a "law and order" problem.
Curfew has been imposed in parts of Anantnag district where passions have flared up over the death of a trucker by right-wing activists who attacked a Kashmir-bound truck on October 9 in Udhampur with petrol bombs.
Police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in strength in sensitive areas of south Kashmir, including Botengu, the native village of the trucker, to prevent people from staging protests, which had thrown traffic out of gear on the strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway.
Several separatist leaders including the veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and JKLF chief Yasin Malik are under house-arrest.
Zahid Ahmad died at New Delhi's Safdarjung hospital on Sunday. He was admitted there on October 10 with over 70 percent burn injuries. The driver of the truck, Showkat Ahmad, who was also injured in the attack, is reportedly recovering at the hospital.
The fresh unrest began in the Valley when protests broke out in Anantnag on October 10 against the attack on Zahid. After he succumbed, violent clashes had broken out between the mourners and the police. Yesterday, a youth was hit by a teargas shell fired during protests and his condition is reported to be critical.