Traders Call Srinagar Bandh Today

4 December 2015
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Accusing police of committing atrocities in old city areas especially at Nowhatta Friday afternoon, Shahr-e-Khaas Traders Coordination Committee urged all business establishments in Srinagar to observe complete shutdown on Saturday against the police action. 'We haven't seen such a brute use of force by the police so far. They fired hundreds of tear gas shells at our shops near Jamia Masjid and damaged our goods. Many shopkeepers were also beaten by the policemen,' said President, Jamia Masjid Traders Federation, JavaidZargar. 'We urge the entire business community of Srinagar, especially shopkeepers, to observe shutdown on Saturday against the police atrocities on us. Transport and schools are exempted from the strike.' The traders of various areas of old Srinagar that include BohriKadal, SarafKadal, Nowhatta, Gojwara and adjacent areas have formed Shahr-e-Khaas Traders Coordination Committee to highlight their issues. The committee members alleged that the Friday congregational prayers were yet to culminate at the grand masjid today and police resorted to heavy tear gas, pepper gas and chilly-grenade shelling. 'They fired several tear gas shells at the shops and also ransacked our goods worth lakhs of rupees,' the traders said. 'The area got enveloped in a thick cover of tear gas and pepper gas causing irritation to many elderly people and also to children.' Locals of the area said they were somehow managing to bear mild tear gas shelling on almost every Friday but 'today it was hell.' The President, Jamia Masjid Traders Federation, said that all the shopkeepers of the market would stage a sit-in at NowhattaChowk on Saturday against the 'police atrocities.' 'We hope rest of the Srinagar trade bodies would extend support to us as we have always been on the fore front whenever they called for strike,' he said. Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation President, Muhammad SadaqBaqal, has supported the strike call and also condemned the police action. Mirwaiz condemns police action: Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has strongly condemned the police action against the traders stating that by resorting to heavy tear gas shelling 'sanctity of Jamia Masjid has been violated as many shells hit the walls of the grand masjid.' 'I strongly condemn the merciless beating of shopkeepers of Jamia Market, Nowhatta, Gojwara, SarafKadal, RajouriKadal and adjoining areas. It is unfortunate to see policemen damaging the goods and other property of shopkeepers of these areas,' he said. 'It appears that a war has been declared against the unarmed civilians of the area and use of teargas, pepper gas and pellet gun is deliberately being done to create an atmosphere of fear and terror.' He said that under a planned conspiracy forces in large numbers are deployed around Jamia Majid every Friday to 'terrorize the whole atmosphere with the intention to scare away the devotees from coming to offer Friday prayers.' Mirwaiz appealed to the people to remain vigilant of the 'nefarious designs of anti-Islam and anti-movement forces and foil their designs by remaining united and steadfast.' Police Speaks: Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar, Amit Kumar, said youth resorted to stone pelting forcing police to resort to tear gas shelling. 'Some shells may have hit some shops.' The SSP, however, denied the allegations that police resorted to manhandling of shopkeepers. 'No shopkeeper was beaten. There is also no reality in allegations that police damaged goods of shopkeepers at the Jamia Masjid.' Asked why is it necessary to deploy police at Jamia Masjid every Friday, he said it was must as youth resort to massive stone pelting aimed at disturbing law and order.