Valley Shuts Down To Protest Custody Killing3 August 2011
Srinagar: Authorities here claimed to have averted attempts to break several months of calm in the summer capital of Kashmir on Wednesday amid a strike called by the Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, against last week’s custodial killing in Sopore. The shutdown, supported by the head of the rival Hurriyat faction, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, kept main business centres in the city and outlying towns shuttered, public transport off the roads and most banks and educational institutions closed, even as stone-pelting was reported from some areas in north and central Kashmir. In Srinagar, forces made a prudent withdrawal from streets when several months of calm in the city were shattered shortly after dawn as crowds attacked police and paramilitary deployments in the interiors with stones, reports said. Contingents moved into downtown Srinagar overnight as a precautionary measure in view of the strike were said to have come under stone-pelting attacks at a number of places by groups of youth leaving mosques after dawn prayers in the holy month of Ramazan. The violence was reported from the Nauhatta, Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Khanyar, Kaw Dara, Baba Demb, and Habba Kadal areas of the old city, and the Barbar Shah, Maisuma Bemina and some other localities in central and upper Srinagar. But the forces deployed in the streets swiftly withdrew, depriving the crowds of their targets and restoring calm in the areas. A senior police officer said that the forces were pulled out in view of the sensitivity of the situation, and the decision prevented the situation from deteriorating. In Sopore, security deployments continued for the fourth day in many sensitive areas, but stone-pelting on the police and the paramilitary was reported from the Arampora, Batpora and Nahrupora quarters. A large number of people flocked to the home of the young custodial killing victim, Nazim Rasheed Shalla, to offer fateha and pay condolence to the grieving family. A delegation from the Hurriyat (M) also visited the youth’s parents on the victim’s fourth day ceremony, conveying a message of condolence and sympathy from its chairman, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. Locals said that in spite of the holy month of Ramazan, forces personnel had caused harassment to people going for worship or essential purchases. Early-morning stone-pelting was also reported from the township of Baramulla where groups of youth tried to take out a procession after emerging from mosques in the Azad Gunj quarter.