'Battle of ideas' fought with baton and curfew in Valley
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, June 19: Government on Friday foiled the separatists' mass march to Sopore with enforcement of undeclared curfew in half of the capital city even as all the separatist leaders remained in detention and violent clashes took place at a couple of places.
Officially called as "restrictions to movement", undeclared curfew was enforced in areas under seven Police Stations in downtown Srinagar, denying the people even access to the community mosques for performing congregational prayers on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramazan. Consequently the afternoon prayers could not be held at historic Jamia Masjid, the politico-religious seat of the Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Mirwaiz, as also the head of Hurriyat's hardline faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani and some other prominent separatist leaders, were placed under house arrest. JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Shah, besides Nayeem Khan and Hilal War had been already picked up and detained at different Police Stations to prevent them from organising the protest march.
The separatists had called "Sopore Chalo" to protest a chain of civilian killings by unidentified gunmen in the last three weeks. Geelani and others have held "Government's secret agencies" responsible even as a new group under the banner of "Lashkar-e-Islam" has owned up its drive against the defaulters of its diktat seeking closedown of mobile telephony in Sopore. All the six civilians have been shot dead in Sopore. Two of them were activists of Geelani's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and two more associated with the mobile telephony operations.
Situation was reportedly tense but under control in the potential flash points of downtown Srinagar and Sopore where police and paramilitary forces in large numbers patrolled streets and enforced prohibitory orders under section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code.
Nevertheless, unruly groups of the youngsters subjected Police and CRPF to intense stone pelting at Nowhatta, Khwaja Bazar and Zainakoot. A CRPF spokesman said that an ASI was severely injured at Zainakoot while as the vehicles and equipment suffered damage in Nowhatta area.
At Hyderpora, Geelani alongwith his associates was taken into custody and detained at a police station after he attempted to come out of his residence and form a demonstration.
Most of the separatist organisations condemned enforcement of undeclared curfew and prohibitory orders on the very first day of the holy month of Ramazan in their separate statements.