SRINAGAR 15 Feb: With more than 110 arrests and strict curfew in force for the seventh consecutive day, authorities are keeping fingers crossed over the return of normalcy in Kashmir. Barring Srinagar, as many as 25 protests were reported from the peripheral districts in which at least one youth was “seriously” injured.
“We have been exhibiting maximum restraint,” state’s junior home minister Sajjad A Kitchloo said. “If you see, there are more cops injured in the stone pelting than civilians.” He said given an overall peaceful situation, “the government may lift curfew from major parts of Kashmir on Saturday.”
Authorities had imposed strict curfew restrictions in wake of the first weekly Friday gathering, after the weekend execution of Afzal Guru in Tihar, amassing at every major mosque. Most of the major mosques in Srinagar remained locked though prayers were offered in all mosques not located strategically. There were no prayers in the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. “I had my prayers in the police mosque,” Kitchloo said.
Police sources said there were protests after the Friday prayers from various areas falling in the Pulwama, Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipore districts. “In at least 15 cases, these protests ended up in clashes between police and the youth,” one senior officer said. “In Naidkhie, Bandipore one person was injured when a projectile hit his leg.”
However, reports reaching from peripheral towns suggest the number of arrests is much more. “We have around 50 arrests in Baramulla alone, said Sameer an old town resident in Baramulla. “Not less than eight boys were picked up after the Friday protests today,” Ali Mohammad said from Chrar-e-Sharief that witnessed major protests in the afternoon.
In the entire episode involving execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the moderate Hurriyat has been cautiously reacting unlike their hardline rivals. While moderates issued a statement condemning the continued curfew restrictions across Kashmir, the hardliners extended strike by two more days. Though spontaneous reaction to the execution was not ruled out in Kashmir, the ongoing strike was sponsored by the hard-liners led by Syed Ali Geelani. Both Geelani and Mirwaiz are under house arrest in Delhi as their second rung leadership is formally detained back home.