November 2019 News

Violence, Shutdown Again In Srinagar

22 November 2019
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: The Kashmir Valley witnessed a sudden bout of violence and a shutdown by shopkeepers on Thursday, just a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament the situation in J&K was 'absolutely normal.' Days after reopening their shops and resuming their routine, shopkeepers in Srinagar's main markets like Polo View, Lal Chowk, Hari Singh High Street, Bohri Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Kara Nagar, Hawal and Nowshera shut shops again in the morning. 'Mr. Shah's speech has acted as a provocation. The fact that Kashmir observed over 100-day shutdown and a bandh by public transport is an indicator that whatever happened on August 5 is unacceptable to the people. Instead of acknowledging the sentiments on the ground, Mr. Shah made a false claim in Parliament on normalcy in Kashmir,' said Niyaz Jan, a member of the Bohri Kadal Shopkeepers Association. Police sources said unknown groups of youth were making the rounds of the city and calling for a fresh spell of shutdown by shopkeepers, schools and transporters in the Valley, putting security forces on tenterhooks. 'We are monitoring the situation. Several incidents of arson and violence have been reported in the past 24 hours, but the situation remains under control,' said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity. The shutdown by shopkeepers also thinned the presence of private vehicles on the roads in Srinagar. However, government offices, banks and petrol pumps functioned normally. Inter-Kashmir train services also plied as per schedule. Meanwhile, several schools declared holiday for Friday, fearing a spike in protest. According to the police, Srinagar has witnessed incidents of arson and mild sporadic incidence of stone-pelting at Hawal and Saraf Kadal among others. Three jewellery shops, a private vehicle and three handcarts were set on fire by unknown persons in Srinagar's Bohri Kadal, Nawa Kadal and Soura areas, police sources said. From near-zero incidents of stone-pelting recorded by the police prior to Mr. Shah's speech, the past 24-hours saw nine 'significant' incidents of stone-pelting in the city, especially in parts of the old city. Meanwhile, social activists Shushoba Bharvi and former bureaucrat Wajahad Habibullah, of the Concerned Citizens' Group headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, arrived in Srinagar on Thursday. Source said Mr. Sinha, who was earlier denied entry into Srinagar by the police in the wake of Section 144 imposed after August 5, is likely to arrive here on Friday to assess the ground situation. He will be accompanied by former Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak and journalist Bharat Bhushan.