Kashmir, Chenab Valley shut against Pulwama killings
Kashmir observed a complete shutdown on Sunday against the killing of seven civilians and three militants by government forces in southern Pulwama district a day earlier, even as the police imposed strict restrictions in Srinagar’s Downtown areas to thwart possible pro-freedom protests and also placed the resistance leadership under detention.
The call for shutdown, given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, evoked a complete response across the Valley. Seven civilians including a teenager and an MBA graduate who had married to an Indonesian woman were killed as forces used live ammunition on protesters near the gunfight site in Pulwama’sSirnoo village on Saturday. Three HizbulMujahideen militants, including a top commander of the outfit, and an army soldier were killed in the gun-battle.
The civilian killings triggered widespread outrage across Kashmir and a three-day shutdown call by the JRL, which has also asked the people to “march towards army’s Srinagar-based headquarters” on Monday.
All commercial establishments and private institutions remained closed while traffic was off the roads.
The strike call, according to groups of witnesses, evoked a near-total response in various district headquarters including Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora.
In southern Pulwama, a sea of mourners visited the homes of slain civilians and militants amid heavy deployment of forces at various entry and exit points of the district.
A complete shutdown was observed in Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag districts as well.
RESISTANCE LEADERS CAGED
The resistance leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Engineer Hilal War, Javid Ahmed Mir and many others were placed under house detention ahead of the JRL’s planned march to the army’s Srinagar headquarters on Monday.
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik has gone into hiding since Saturday and will lead a protest towards the army headquarters on Monday, a source said.
CURBS IN DOWNTOWN
The forces had imposed strict curfew in many Downtown areas in Srinagar including MaharajGunj, Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta and SafaKadal. Similar curbs were also seen in Maisuma area.
An official said that restrictions were in place as a “precautionary measure to maintain law and order” in the wake of civilian killings in Pulwama.
A witness said that soon after withdrawal of forces from Downtown parts, youth took to streets and clashed with forces in SafaKadal, NawaKadal, Eidgah and other areas.
“Forces fired pepper gas and ‘pava’ shells at the protesters,” said Umer Rashid, a resident of Eidgah.
SUNDAY MARKET WEARS A DESERTED LOOK
The Sunday Market in Srinagar observed a complete shutdown in response to the call given by the Joint Resistance Leadership.
The three-km-long Market—from Radio Kashmir to Hari Singh High Street—attracts thousands of people from far and wide on Sundays. However, it wore a deserted look as none of the vendors had raised a stall on Sunday.
The JRL had called for a shutdown against killing of seven civilians by government forces in southern Pulwama district on Saturday.
In winters, the Sunday Market is thronged by thousands of shoppers from different districts of the Valley to buy clothes and household goods at “relatively cheaper prices.”
SHUTDOWN IN CHENAB VALLEY
A complete shutdown was observed in Chenab Valley’s Banihal, Khari, Bhadarwah, Doda, Thathri, Gandoh and Kishtwar areas over the civilian killings by forces in Pulwama. All shops and other business establishments were closed while traffic movement was also affected.
In a statement, president of AnjumanIslamiaBhadarwah, Pervaiz Ahmed Sheikh termed the Pulwama civilian killings as “most heinous.”
MANDI TO OBSERVE BANDH TODAY
Religious organisations and a traders’ body from PoonchMandi area called for a shutdown on Monday to protest civilian killings by forces in Pulwama on Saturday.
After a meeting in the Manditownship, the bandh call was given by MoulanaSayeedShahidBukhari from Markaz-i-Jamia Masjid.
“The call was given after a unanimous decision by local religious organisations, traders’ body and civil society during the meeting,” Bukhari said.
The participants of the meeting condemned the civilian killings and said “excessive use of force will further lead to bloodbath in Kashmir”.
(With WithAuqib Salam in Srinagar, Tahir Nadeem Khan in Kishtwar, and Ishrat Butt in Poonch,)