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Srinagar rally banned
One killed, 40 hurt in violence, curfew clamped
Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 24
Apprehending violence, the state government today decided to ban the ‘Lal Chowk chalo’ march, called by the Hurriyat Conference-led coordination committee for Monday. The government imposed curfew in the wee hours across the 10 districts and put senior Hurriyat leaders under house arrest.

Meanwhile, one person was killed and over 60, including six security personnel, injured as protesters defied curfew and clashed with security personnel at several places. The deceased was identified as Ghulam Qadir.

Security forces resorted to lathicharge, tear gas shells and even fired gunshots to disperse the angry mob. The man was killed near the Dal Lake in the evening when a mob attacked a CRPF camp with stones.

A CRPF official said they fired three rounds at the mob and one man, who is yet to be identified, was killed. People defied curfew in Handwara and Birwah. The police had to open fire in Hyderpora too where people were agitated over alleged desecration of a religious place by security forces. Over 15 persons were injured.

A sub-inspector was injured in stone-pelting by locals at downtown in Srinagar. Youths threw stones at security personnel across the old Srinagar.

Protesters also torched a security vehicle in Khunmoo. Youths also took to the streets in downtown localities like Khaniyar and Nowhatta and raised pro-freedom slogans.

Officials said the curfew was largely effective.

The coordination committee, an umbrella body of both factions of the Hurriyat Conference, religious and social outfits, has decided to defy the curfew and said it would go ahead with the march tomorrow.

“If any violence occurs, it would be the responsibility of the government. Our rallies have been peaceful and we will go ahead with our plans,” Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani told The Tribune over the phone from his Hyderpora residence, where he is under house arrest. Other frontline leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik are also under arrest.

Kashmir IG S.M. Sahai said we took the decision to stop the rally as we had concrete intelligence reports that the lives of top separatist leaders like Geelani and Mirwaiz were under threat.

Sahai’s assertions gains significance as yesterday, a mob attacked the house of Abdul Gani Bhat, an ally of Mirwaiz, in Sopore.

However, many second rung Hurriyat leaders escaped the police net and could try to rally people around tomorrow as was the case with the Muzafarrabad march when underground leaders like Shabir Shah and Sheikh Aziz appeared in north Kashmir on August 11 and led people, resulting in police firing that killed several persons.

The government has also closed down local news channels in an attempt to black out any inconvenient information. The police said many channels have fuelled sentiments during the ongoing agitation by carrying out “prejudiced” reports.

(UNI says: The Geo channel of Pakistan was back on air after remaining off for about a month in the valley.)



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