A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir while youth continued to engage in clashes with forces through the day in parts of Valley in protest to the killings in Shopian last Sunday in which 13 militants and 4 civilians were killed.
Markets remained shut while schools and colleges were closed. There were curbs on movement of people in parts of Srinagar city to prevent protests called by Joint resistance leadership (JRL) over militant and civilian killings in Shopian.
Contingents of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed on the roads, lanes and by-lanes to foil youth from pelting stones and raising protests particularly in downtown area of Srinagar. The restrictions were imposed in the jurisdiction of five police station areas of Khanyar, Nowhata, Rainawari, Safakadal, M R Gunj of old city Srinagar. Curbs were also imposed in Maisuma, Kralkhud areas of the city. Authorities imposed the restrictions under Section 144 CrPC as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of protest call by JRL and shutdown call by traders bodies.
Local residents said armed forces arrived early in the morning and stood on guard at shop fronts and major flashpoints throughout the day in downtown. They said forces laid large coils of concertina wires and barricades on roads to restrict movement of public.
In Srinagar, clashes were witnessed at main Chowk Soura, Nageen, Habakadal and Fateh Kadal areas.
After Friday prayers, witnesses said, youth came on roads amid chants of pro-freedom slogans and resorted to stone pelting on forces. The clashes continued for some time in these areas. Police said Station house officer Nageen suffered injuries in a stone pelting incident.
“Our colleague SHO Nigeen Insp Manzoor got injured today morning in a stone pelting incident. He is being treated in hospital. We pray for his speedy recovery,” police said.
Meanwhile a complete shutdown was observed in South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts for 6-th consecutive day on Friday. Clashes erupted after Friday afternoon at some places during which some youth sustained injuries.
Local residents said that youth after offering Friday prayers in Qalampora village of Pulwama started pelting stones on a party of army. The residents said that army resorted to aerial firing triggering clashes between two sides. A youth identified as Rouf Ahmad Parra, 20, who sustained injury during the clashes, was shifted to community health centre Rajpora for treatment. A doctor at the hospital said that the youth has a minor injury on forehead and they were ascertaining the nature of injury.
Senior superintendent of police for Pulwama said that the youth has a superficial wound and denied that he has any bullet injury. Clashes after Friday prayers also erupted between forces and youth at Imamsahib and Safan-Naman area of Shopian.
Local residents said that youth pelted stones on forces after Friday congregational prayers who retaliated with firing pellets and teargas canisters in which some youth sustained injuries. Local sources said that around 7 youth were injured in Imamsahib and 5 in Safan- Naman.
Authorities at district hospital Shopian said that three youth with pellet injuries were received at the hospital. “Two of them were referred to Srinagar for treatment while one was discharged after treatment,” the authorities said.
Minor clashes were also reported from Malangpora area of Pulwama. Local sources said that youth protested against civil killings by raising some slogans and soon the protests were quelled. All shops and business establishments remained shut while transport was off the rods.
In Palhalan area of Baramulla district, forces were deployed in advance to prevent protests after Friday prayers. Minor clashes between youth and forces were reported from the village, however no injuries were reported. In Sopore, forces were deployed after youth started protesting and resorted to stone pelting near Jamia Masjid Sopore. Reports said forces fired few tear smoke shells to disperse the stone pelting youth. However, none was reported to be injured.
In central Kashmir’s Budgam district, clashes erupted between forces and protesters at Charar-i-Sharief after Friday prayers. Witnesses said amid pro-freedom slogans, scores of youth assembled near the shrine and tried to take protest march in the town. However, forces fired several tear-gas shells to disperse the youth.
In Kupwara town of north Kashmir, clashes between forces and locals at Trehgam. Local sources said amid shutdown in the area, youth pelted stone on forces who retaliated by firing tears smoke shells to disperse the youth. “One woman was injured during clashes,” reports said.
JRL comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had called for “peaceful protests” today over killings in South Kashmir. The protest was called by separatist leaders to express solidarity with people of Shopian, Shopian, Tral and Anantnag and call the world attention towards Kashmir. The two trade bodies of Kashmir Economic Alliance led by Mohammad Yusuf Chapri and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association (KTMF) led by Bashir Ahmad Rather had called for a strike in Kashmir.
The strike call evoked a total response in Srinagar city and other district headquarters of Valley. All shops and business establishments remained closed while public transport was off the roads across Valley. However, a thin movement of private vehicles was observed on roads. Schools and colleges also remained closed due to apprehensions of student protests in Valley.
On Thursday, normal life had returned to normal as usual and business outlets, schools and colleges in Srinagar and other parts of Valley except south Kashmir had re-opened after three days. However, students in Srinagar and north Kashmir parts came on roads in protests and clashed with forces, prompting the government to shut schools and colleges again for Friday.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed across Pakistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) to condemn the ongoing “state terrorism and violence” by the Indian army in Kashmir.
A resolution to this effect was adopted in a special meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on April 2 with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the chair.
Rallies, functions, and walks were held in different parts of Pakistan and around the world by Pakistanis and Kashmiris to expose Indian “atrocities and highlight the need for peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute.”
In PaK the main rally was taken out in Muzaffarabad, whereas similar rallies were taken out from the deputy commissioner’s offices in Neelum, Jhelum Valley, Bagh, Rawalakot, Haveli, Kotli and other districts. Rallies were also held in various parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by political parties and other groups.
Moreover, Senate opposition leader Sherry Rehman submitted a resolution against the Indian authorities in the Upper House of Parliament. Pakistani activists from the Youth Forum for Kashmir shouted slogans during a protest against the killing of Muslims in Kashmir and to show “their solidarity with the Kashmiri Muslim in Lahore”.
In his special message for the day, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the recent brutalities against innocent Kashmiris have set a new example of Indian barbarism. “India wants to suppress Kashmiris who are asking for the right to self-determination,” he said further.
Pakistan strongly condemned the brutal and discriminatory use of force by the Indian occupation forces. The federal cabinet condemned the suspension of communication services, especially the internet in the Valley, and underscored that such reprehensible Indian attempts aimed at silencing the voice of the Kashmiris from reaching the international community would never succeed.