JEHANGIR ALI | 28 JULY, 2016
Srinagar Protesters Put Up Road Blockades To Keep Authorities Out
SRINAGAR: Curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in parts of Kashmir Valley, including the capital Srinagar where civilian protesters have put up road blockades, making many downtown localities out of bounds for the administration.
Severe restrictions continue to cripple normal life across the Valley on twentieth day since the civil uprising broke out with fresh clashes reported from parts of Srinagar's Kathi Darwaza locality.
Police sources said the clashes broke out when the forces moved in to clear a blockade put up on the main road by youths who were protesting against the civilian killings, sparking clashes during which two boys, including a minor, were detained by police.
Protests and clashes were also reported from the adjoining Saida Kadal and Rainawari locality. "As a precautionary measure, Section 144 remains in force in Srinagar city which bars assembly of crowds," a senior police official said.
In downtown Srinagar, locals have put up blockades in many areas with a wall of tin sheet coming up on at least one main road near old city's Rajouri Kadal locality, the bastion of moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, beyond which no officials or police vehicles are being allowed.
Last night, police and paramilitary personnel had to flee from the scene of a nocturnal raid in old city when an announcement was made from a local mosque about their presence in the area, which attracted locals on the streets who later staged pro-freedom and anti-India protests.
According to reports, groups of youngsters arrive on roads early in the morning in almost all parts of the Valley to man blockades in turns where commuters are turned away, sometimes using force. Only ambulances are allowed free passage.
At Kralpora in Budgam district, protesters broke a window of a car today morning when the driver asked them to let him through. "I had to reach Chadoora to pick up my mother but the sight terrified me so much that I returned home," Kaiser Majeed, a resident of Baghi Mehtab on the outskirts of Srinagar city who was at the spot, said.
Early this week, angry protesters defied the relaxation in strike call by the Hurriyat and imposed a civil curfew in parts of old Srinagar, sparking concerns in the civil and police administration that the protests may intensify in coming days.
"We want a permanent end to this crisis. Kashmir has suffered enough under strike calls and curfews. This time, we are not going to relent, even if we have to shut down our businesses and schools for another month or even more," a protester, who didn't want to be identified, said in Srinagar.
Meanwhile, separatist leaders including Mirwaiz and veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani were arrested yesterday when they tried to march towards south Kashmir's Kulgam town, where at least 10 youths have died over the last three weeks, to pay them tributes. JKLF chief Yasin Malik also remains under arrest.
Officials said curfew remains in place in three south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwamaon Thursday while as severe restrictions have been imposed in Shopian, Kupwara and Sopore towns to foil any kind of protest.
Despite orders to open, all the educational institutions in the Valley including private schools, colleges and universities remain closed since public transport, including the train services between Baramulla and Banihal town, is suspended on twentieth day of the uprising.
(Photograph Basit Zargar)