Despite tight security, protesters in Kashmir’s Srinagar have been protesting since three weeks to show anger against the withdrawal of autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. On Friday, the security forces used tear gases against stone-pelting protesters in Soura district.
A Reuters report says, the protesters wanted to march to the office of the U.N. Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) as many posters were seen in the Muslim-majority region Srinagar this week.
Looking into the situation, the security was intensified and restrictions imposed in Srinagar by authorities. Local police blocked all major junctions leading to the office of UN Military observer's office in the Sonwar region of the city. The Reuters report added this was the first such call by separatists seeking Kashmir’s secession from India.
The traffic police also put barricades and erected concertina wires at many places to prevent protesters from marching to Lal Chowk and Sonawar. Scores of security personnel were also deployed to maintain peace and order in the region.
Paramilitary police, on Friday, was trying to enter an area in Soura (in Srinagar) around the local mosque called ‘Jinab Sahib’ which was full of people for the Friday prayers. The residents of the area threw stones on the police to restrict their movement inside the area.
The police reacted to this action through several rounds of tear gas and chili grenades. However, they were beaten back by many stone-pelting men. The report says that some men suffered pellet injuries too. The locals justified their violent action saying, the security forces had been repeatedly trying to move into Soura, often using tear gas and pellets.
The Indian government has intensified security to avoid violence after the abrogation of Article 370. However, some residents claim they are not safe. “We are neither safe at home, nor outside,” said Rouf, who declined to give his full name. He had rubbed salt into his face to counteract the effects of tear gas.
In Soura, the afternoon was spent peacefully for Friday prayers. The report adds that a cleric then raised a call for “Azadi” – Urdu for freedom – several times, and declared Kashmir’s allegiance to neighbouring Pakistan. “Long live Pakistan,” the cleric said, as worshippers roared back in approval.
After repealing of provisions of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, which granted it special status, several leaders in the Valley were put under house arrest as a precautionary measure by the Centre.
(With inputs from ANI)