Protests, Clashes In Sopore, Old City5 August 2011
Srinagar: The chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference and other separatist leaders were placed under house arrest by authorities to prevent them from leading protest demonstrations against custodial death of Sopore youth while protests and incidents of stone pelting were reported after Friday prayers from Sopore and some areas in Srinagar. Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Shah Geelani was not allowed to move out of his Hyderpora residence. “A huge posse of policemen told him that he has been placed under house arrest and cannot move out,” Hurriyat (G) spokesman said and termed it interference in the religious matters. “Muslims wait for 11 months to be able to observe Ramadan but this government is insensitive to Islamic beliefs,' he said. Geelani had called for peaceful protests after the Friday prayers against alleged human rights violations including custodial death of Nazim Rashid Shalla in Sopore town of Baramulla district on July 31. Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was also confined to his Nageen residence and was not allowed to move out. “Shabir Ahmad Shah, Masroor Abbas Ansari, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and some other senior Hurriyat activists were also placed under house arrest,” a Hurriyat (M) spokesman said. Meanwhile, hundreds of people took to roads at Jamia Masjid, Sopore after Friday prayers and staged demonstrations. Chanting pro-freedom, pro-Islamic and anti-India slogans, the protestors were demanding an end to human rights violations and punishment to the “killers” of Nazim Rashid. The protesters clashed with police and paramilitary personnel, who were deployed in strength in Sopore town to maintain peace. The cops lobbed tear smoke shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse the protestors, who retaliated by pelting stones and bricks towards them. The clashes continued for some time. The apple township observed complete shutdown after Friday prayers. Clashes were also reported from Nowhatta area of old city, Srinagar. “After the Friday prayers, people took out a peaceful demonstration to protest the custodial death of Sopore youth. As they tried to march ahead, the police and CRPF men intercepted them and resorted to heavy baton charge and lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse them. The cops also fired some rounds in air,” eyewitnesses said. Later, youth pelted stones and bricks towards the police and CRPF men at Jamia Masjid, Gojwara and Nowhatta, triggering the clashes. The ding dong battle between the two sides continued for some time. The photo journalists, who were discharging professional duty, were allegedly harassed and beaten by the policemen. “The policemen and officials started pelting stones on us. They threatened to open fire on us to scare us away,” said Farooq Javed Khan, president Kashmir Press Photo Association. However, SSP Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari said no such incident took place. “I was on the spot and no one pelted stones on photojournalists. The allegations are false,” he said. Meanwhile, hundreds of people took out a protest rally in South Kashmir’s Islamabad district. “After conclusion of the Friday prayers, hundreds of people took out a march from Jamia Masjid to Lal chowk. They were chanting pro-freedom and pro-Islamic slogans and were demanding an end to HR violations and release of youth,” the eyewitnesses said. They said the processionists dispersed off peacefully. In Tral town of Pulwama district, clashes broke out between policemen and youth after Friday prayers. However, no injuries were reported. Meanwhile, a police spokesman said situation in Kashmir remained normal and under control. “Friday prayers concluded peacefully throughout Valley. However, after Friday prayers some miscreants resorted to stone pelting on police and forces deployments in main market Sopore, Jamia Masjid Srinagar, Gojwara and Nowhatta. Police however, exercised maximum restraint,” he said. He said the miscreants were chased away and no one was hurt in these incidents.