Over 100 clashes with Police across Valley on 53rd day of turbulence
· Hurriyat warns there would be no amnesty for drivers defying its call; 0ver 100 vehicles damaged in enforcement of shutdown
Ahmed Ali FayyazSRINAGAR, Aug 30: Even as vigilantes checked identity cards and roughed up many people driving their vehicles in violation of the separatists’ shutdown call on Tuesday, more than a hundred clashes took place between the protesters and Police across Kashmir valley on 53rd day of the turbulence, triggered by the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8.
For the first time after July 8, shops opened in the capital city’s main business hub of Lalchowk when the day’s shutdown ended for 12 hours of the night at 6.00 pm. Reports said that shops also opened for the first time in over seven weeks at district headquarters of Anantnag in South Kashmir around the same time. Reports said that some shops opened in the day in violation of the shutdown call at some places in the uptown Srinagar and some other major townships. Skeletal traffic operated in pars of Srinagar and some other districts on the second consecutive day.
However, most of the shops across Kashmir valley were closed and only a small number of the private and commercial vehicles was spotted in operation. Curfew was in force only in downtown Srinagar Police Station areas of Nowhatta and M.R. Gunj.
A Zonal Police Headquarters statement said that curfew had been lifted from whole of the Kashmir valley except two Police Stations of Nowhatta and M R Gunj in Srinagar. “Greater movement of private, passenger vehicular traffic and people was observed in major areas of the Valley including Srinagar city today,” the statement said. It said barring few minor stone pelting incidents, the overall situation remained peaceful and under control throughout the Valley till evening.
“The stone pelting incidents were reported from Batamaloo and Bag-e-Mehtab in Srinagar, Chankipora and Main Chowk, Sopore, Mehmoodabad in Dooru and Kaloosa in Bandipora where miscreants in their attempts to disturb the situation pelted stones on police and security force deployments,” the statement said.
However, reports available with STATE TIMES said that in follow up to some minor clashes in the day, around 100 clashes took place between the unruly crowds and the Police and CRPF. Over 30 protesters and Police and paramilitary personnel are estimated injured. Most of the clashes took place in the evening at the timing of the withdrawal of the Police and CRPF deployments. While around 50 clashes took place in Srinagar, around 50 occurred in other nine districts.
In addition to the violent clashes, at least six peaceful processions were also reported from Palhalan, Wathoo and other places. Reports said that in all the peaceful and violent demonstrations, participants waved Pakistan flags and shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans.
The largest separatist gatherings of the day were reported in Qazigund and Wathoo where 2500 and 2000 people respectively participated in the demonstrations. Police and paramilitary forces initially put up some resistance and used tearsmoke to disperse the crowds and block their way. However, when the number of the participants crossed 1500, Police and CRPF withdrew from the area.
In Srinagar, the most violent clash was reported from Batmaloo where residents alleged that CRPF and Police barged into premises, ransacked houses and roughed up the inmates. A photojournalist’s family was among the complainants.
Officials said that a large number of the vehicles was damaged and drivers were beaten up for violation of the separatists’ shutdown call. They said that two oil tanker drivers were attacked at Qoil Pulwama by unruly crowds. They managed to drive away to a petrol pump. After the Police swung into action, the oil tankers were escorted to their destination inside Awantipore base of Indian Air Force.
About a dozen load carrier drivers complained that they were beaten up and their vehicles damaged with stones and batons by unruly youths. They said that they were carrying LPG cylinders for home delivery in certain areas.
A Hurriyat (Geelani) spokesman said in a statement that the Government was trying to create a false impression of normalcy by roping in local drivers. “…employees, traders, transporters and factories are united in their resolve. But India by its nefarious designs and wicked conspiracies try their best to derail it through their paid local agents. They pay Sumo and auto drivers hefty sums to run their vehicles empty. They encourage their famous departmental stores to run their business under the police cover in civvies. Some SRTC buses are plying on roads and carry the passengers free”, he said.
“Hurriyat has cautioned these people that we have an eye on these issues and we not only know these faces but also recognize them as well. But still we strongly appeal to their collective conscious that those thriving on the behest of Delhi may pay you hefty sums, they may also reward you for becoming Mir Jaffars and Mir Sadiqs. But time will come when you can’t bear the burden of taking the side of killers and beasts and you will surely succumb to your own conscience (sic.)”, he added.
The statement warned that there would be no amnesty for the people defying Hurriyat’s shutdown call: “Hurriyat further said that time is always in motion and when your bad time comes there will be no scope for mafinamas (apologies) and your ugly faces can hardly be forgotten (sic.)”.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]