SRINAGAR: An undeclared curfew was imposed in the occupied Valley to foil the anti-election rallies at Tourist Reception Centre here and in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district by chairmen of Hurriyat Conference factions, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Unfazed by the restrictions, Geelani and Mirwaiz appealed the people to make the Bandipora Chalo on November 17 successful.
Geelani was scheduled to arrive here today and address an anti-election rally at TRC after undergoing treatment in New Delhi for over a month. However, he could not reach the venue as heavy snowfall forced cancellation of all the flights to Srinagar. Authorities had also placed Mirwaiz, who was scheduled to address an anti-election rally in Bandipora, under house arrest.
In view of the rallies, authorities sealed all the routes leading to the TRC and Bandipora by placing barricades and barbed wires on the roads. Though there was no official announcement regarding the curfew, a large contingent of troops and police did not allow anybody to move on the roads, particularly in the volatile old city.
Unlike last Friday, authorities allowed congregational prayers at historic Jamia Masjid. But only few people could make it to the mosque due to strict restrictions.
Eyewitness told Greater Kashmir that troopers of CRPF caught hold of some youth in a lane at Nowhatta and made them to sit on snow for hours together. Pertinently, Nowhatta has been witnessing pro-freedom demonstrations and violent clashes during the past over three months. At least five youth have been killed and hundreds injured, mostly in retaliatory fire by the troops during these clashes in the area. However, today the troops were deployed in strength in its interior areas to prevent assembly of youth.
Reports said Bandipora and its adjoining areas were turned into a garrison. Troops had placed armoured vehicles and concertina wires on various roads leading to Bandipora. Meanwhile, reports said troops fired dozens of tear smoke shells to disperse a pro-freedom procession of Peoples Conference at Watergam in Rafiabad. Cops later detained a Peoples Conference leader, Ghulam Qadir.
Amidst undeclared curfew, situation in other districts remained relatively peaceful. This is for third time in past fortnight that authorities imposed an undeclared curfew in the Valley. On October 27, authorities prevented formation of a human chain. Authorities had imposed undeclared curfew to prevent the Jamia Chalo march on November 6 and 7.
Meanwhile, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the restrictions imposed by the authorities for ‘smooth conduct of elections’ won’t deter the aspirations of Kashmiris and urged the people to make the poll boycott campaign, particularly on November 17 in Bandipora, successful.
“Srinagar city was turned into a garrison to stop people from assembling at TRC. I strongly condemn the restrictions and see it as frustration of the Government to curb the ongoing peaceful movement for freedom,” Geelani told Greater Kashmir.
However, Geelani maintained that “the restrictions and undeclared curfew to stop the people from demanding their right of self-determination won’t deter Kashmiris.” Geelani urged people to march to Bandipora which goes for polls on November 17.
Geelani said for past over 60 years, India has been using every tool to “suppress the pro-freedom movement.” “But India’s evil plans have always met with stiff resistance in Kashmir. Kashmiris have given enough sacrifices for plebiscite and won’t desist from offering more sacrifices for the sacred cause,” he said.
Geelani castigated the National Conference patron, Dr Farooq Abdullah, for his recent statement in which he had reportedly promised land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. “There seems to be a conflict within the Abdullah family regarding the land issue. His son, Omar Abdullah, had stated in Parliament that not even an inch of land will be given to the Shrine Board. Abdullahs are responsible for deteriorating situation in the Valley and they can’t befool people now,” Geelani said.
Mirwaiz Umar termed the restrictions as a violation of democratic rights of Kashmir. “I had to address people at Bandipora today but the authorities put me under house arrest and the whole Valley under siege. Indian leadership has been shattered by the ongoing resistance movement and that is why they are not even allowing people to assemble,” Mirwaiz said.
Mirwaiz said Kashmiris have given their referendum by participating in the recent pro-freedom marches. “The imposition of restrictions to foil our anti-election program symbolizes defeat of India and a democratic victory for Kashmiris. India is so frustrated that it has snatched our right to protest peacefully. International community should take note of it,” Mirwaiz said while appealing people to make Bandipora Chalo on November 17 successful.