Kashmir Halts As Titans Clash At Mohali30 March 2011
Srinagar: Kashmir came to standstill on Wednesday watching arch rivals India and Pakistan fight it out in the second semi-final of the 2011 cricket world cup on Wednesday. Emotions ran high across the valley. In Srinagar while there were joyous scenes witnessed at some places, incidents of stone pelting, baton charge and even attack on a power grid station for temporary power cut were also reported. Youngsters could be seen dancing, hooting, bursting fire crackers, waving green flags on various city streets, including at the commercial hub Lal Chowk. In Khanyar area of old city people were seen passing sarcastic comments on CRPF men deployed at length on roadsides. A group of youth also danced for a moment when Indian team lost its second wicket in the form of Gautam Gambhir. A good number of people including young boys could be seen bursting fire crackers at Saraf Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Gojwara, Nowhatta and Hawal amid cheers in favour of men in green. “Pakistan is our favorite team, they will win today,” yelled a group of youth at Rajouri Kadal. Similar scenes were witnessed in other areas of old city. At Saraf Kadal, cricket lovers were bursting fire crackers while hooting at CRPF and police men deployed in the area. At the end of the first innings of the match, many areas in old city witnessed stone pelting including Saraf Kadal, Rajouri Kadal and Nowhatta. Batamaloo area of uptown also witnessed mild stone pelting. Responding to the display of public support in favour of Pakistani team, CRPF men also raised pro-Indian slogans besides bursting crackers. Meanwhile, policemen maintained utmost restraint while dealing with the situation. A group of people attacked a power grid station near silk factory Rajbagh for a temporary power cut. A PDD official said people pelted stones at the grid station after electricity went off for just 10 minutes. “We immediately restored the supply by repairing the line,” he said. Police and CRPF had to resort to lathi-charge at Kokerbazar, when hundreds of people took to streets amid pro-Pakistan slogans and bursting of fire crackers. They were later disbursed peacefully. In the volatile Maisuma area, people could also been seen waving green flags from windows amid pro-Pakistan slogans. The deafening sounds of fire-crackers could be heard till late in the evening. NORTH North Kashmir’s Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts wore deserted look as people remained confined to their homes to enjoy the clash of the two Asian cricketing giants. Even though people in power-starved Kupwara and Sopore arranged power generators and watched the game on community screens, cricket lovers at some places were infuriated by power cuts and protested before power stations in Sopore town. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of people staged demonstrations and chanted pro-freedom and anti-government slogans before the Sub Transmission Division and at receiving station Sopore. In Kupwara, some localities had arranged mass gatherings to watch the game. However, youth here desisted from bursting crackers owing to the sensitivity of this border district. “We collected money and bought gensets on rent to compensate for the power cuts,” said Showkat Ali, a local resident, adding that they formed small communities of fifty to hundred people to enjoy the game. Ali said, owing to sensitivity of the area, they did not fire crackers. However, they could not resist shouting slogans in favor of Pakistani cricket team and their favorite players including Shahid Afridi. In Baramulla, while the shops and business establishments remained closed in afternoon, youth in old town burst fire crackers at regular intervals. SOUTH South Kashmir also witnessed similar scenes of enthusiasm. In Islamabad town people were hooked to TV sets. While the transporters preferred to watch the game, some of the adjoining villages of Islamabad complained of lack of public transport. Some of the cricket enthusiasts enjoyed bursting fire crackers and dancing on roads in Lal chowk area of the town. “After the end of the first innings, people came out on roads as if they were under curfew and curbs were lifted,” said Khalid Hussain, a cricket lover from Islamabad’s Malakhnag area. “People could not bear even the slightest disruption in the match as was evident when they resorted to mild stone pelting in Khanabal chowk at around 2:30 PM against power failure. However, the authorities restored order within few minutes of the disruption,” a resident, Hilal Ahmad told Rising Kashmir over phone. According to eyewitnesses, authorities had deployed police and CRPF personal in strength across the main town to maintain law and order in the area. In Shopian town, one person was arrested and several others were injured in police action. The youth, Danish Iqbal, was later released following the intervention of local elders. Danish, who owns Unique Multi Media centre at Gol Chowk Shopian, had installed two TV sets for people to watch the match. “Police came into the shop and seized the TV sets and also beat up the youth who had assembled there and later on arrested Danish,” an eyewitnesses said. In rest of the district, the day passed off peacefully as people remained hooked to their TV sets to enjoy every moment of the match. In Pulwama town, youth had arranged screening of the match at Shaheed Park. However, authorities allowed the screening only after 25th over of first innings when Pakistan got a little hold on the run rate. The authorities, meanwhile, had made adequate security arrangements to check any untoward incident. In Drangbal area of Pampore hundreds of people assembled on Srinagar-Jammu Highway and burst crackers after Pakistan restricted the Indian batting line-up well below 300 runs. “People of all ages are on roads and hoping Pakistan to win comprehensively,” said Bilal Ahmad, an ardent Pakistani fan.