Srinagar ignores I-Day; takes to streets, police open fire

15 August 2008
The Hindustan Times
Rashid Ahmad

Srinagar: August 15 may have passed off in Srinagar as a non-event but the day was not without protests. At least 21 people, including a journalist, were injured when CRPF personnel opened fire on protesters in Habbakadal area, leading to a stampede-like situation, official sources said. The protesters were demanding removal of the paramilitary force from the area and deployment of local police. Residents of the area have been on a sit-in near the Habbakadal Bridge since Thursday after CRPF men beat two youths and injured them severely, they said. At the official function in heavily guarded Bakshi Stadium, students of two police public schools, CRPF personnel, policemen, government officials and some mainstream politicians made up for peoples participation. Governor NN Vohra, who took over as the constitutional head of the state in the thick of Shrine Board land row on June 25, took the salute and unfurled the national flag. An uneasy calm prevailed outside the stadium, though authorities had lifted curfew restrictions. Separatist politicians called for a general shutdown and observed the day as a black day. The strike was complete and black flags were hoisted at neighbourhoods across the city. The flags were later removed by police and CRPF personnel.