Braid chopping incidents spark protests in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: In a bid to foil protests against unabated braid chopping incidents, authorities on Friday imposed strict restrictions in parts of Srinagar city while Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest and historical Jamia Masjid was completely sealed by government forces.

The call for Valley wide protests against braid chopping incidents were given by Joint Resistance Leadership including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik.

Geelani continued to remain under house detention. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chief Mohammad Yasin Malik was arrested in Kashmir capital Srinagar and lodged at Police Station Kothi Bagh while Mirwaiz was also placed under house arrest.

Reports said that authorities once again sealed the Jamia Masjid on Friday thus disallowing the faithful to offer congregational prayers inside the historic Masjid. Reports added that no Friday congregational prayers were allowed in the historic mosque.

Reports said that protests were held in different parts of Kashmir Valley after Friday congregational prayers.

Joint Resistance Leadership held a protest while carrying out a march from Abi Guzar that culminated at Press Enclave. A pro-freedom leader said that march was scheduled to be carried out from Maisuma locality, however, due to curfew and restrictions, it was taken out from Abi Guzar locality. Large number of people participated in the march. Police sealed the Abi Guzar road and didn’t allow protesters to march towards Clock Tower Lal Chowk. The protesters assembled at Press Enclave and raised anti-government and ant India slogans. They demanded action against braid choppers and blamed Indian Agencies for it.

As the protesters tried to march towards main road, police swung into action and detained dozens of protesters including Sheikh Abdul Rashid and Bashir Kashmiri.

“People held anti-braid chopping protests in Anchar area of Soura,” eye witnesses said. “They raised slogans: manzoor nahi-manzoor nahi, mulzimo ko pesh karo.”

Stone-pelting incidents were reported from Natipora and Nowgam Srinagar. Protesters pelted stones on government forces who in retaliation fired tear-smoke shells. The protesters were protesting against the unabated braid chopping incidents.

Reports said that a youth was wounded after he was hit by pellets at Natipora.

Clashes also erupted in different parts of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Reports said that youth took to roads and pelted stones on government forces at Reshi Bazar, Mattan Chowk and Cheeni Chowk. Traders alleged that police resorted to unprovoked shelling and fired some shells inside their shops. As a mark of protest, shopkeepers lowered their shutters and observed shutdown for the day.

For past three weeks, Kashmir witnessed over 50 incidents of braid chopping across the Valley while police so far is still clueless. A helpline has been established and a reward of six lakh rupees has also been announced on information leading to arrest of braid choppers.

Authorities also suspended the mobile Internet service in Srinagar to prevent “rumour mongering over braid chopping incidents.”

An official said that the service was suspended in view of call for protests issued by the separatist leadership today.

“4G, 3G and 2G services have been suspended across the valley,” he said.