Business, normal life get beating in Kashmir, indefinite strike called (Lead)

June 3rd, 2009 - 7:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 3 (IANS) In a grim reminder of last summer’s agitation in Jammu and Kashmir, normal life and business were hit for the third day Wednesday in the valley, as shutdown and violent protests against the alleged rape and murder of two women last week showed no let up.
The volatile situation that has engulfed the entire Kashmir Valley is feared to linger on as senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani called for an “indefinite strike” till Kashmir is demilitarised. He spoke to the media over phone hours before he was arrested and taken to an unknown place.

In Srinagar and other major towns of the valley, roads were deserted, shops and schools shut and strict restrictions continued as people in many areas of the summer capital took to the streets demanding action against the security forces allegedly involved in the rape and murder of Neelofar Jan, 22 and her kin Asiya Jan, 17. The women were found dead Saturday in a field near their house in the south Kashmir Shopian town, 60 km from here.

Since then relentless violent protests have rocked the valley.

On Wednesday, security forces had erected barricades on many roads to curtail vehicular and pedestrian movement and to prevent people from holding protest demonstrations.

People in uptown areas of Srinagar protested shouting anti-government and pro-freedom slogans even as paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed in large numbers this morning to enforce curfew like restrictions.

Police used tear smoke and baton charged the protestors, who were demanding the revocation of special powers given to the armed forces in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir being a disturbed area.

The protestors threw stones at police and CRPF at various places and a group of youth burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in city centre Lal Chowk.

At least eight protestors were injured, two severely, in clashes with security forces.

CRPF troopers allegedly opened fire to disperse a stone pelting mob at Tengpora in uptown Srinagar seriously Adil and Irfan, who were taken to a hospital.

Tension in the valley was palpable on the third day of the general strike called by separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, was scheduled to address a news conference at his when Kashmir Inspector of Police B. Srinivas and Srinagar police chief Afhadul Mujtaba reached there along with a posse of the police.

“Geelani has been arrested along with four party activists,” a police officer told IANS.

The journalists who had gone to cover the press conference were stopped by the police short of Geelani’s residence.

However, before his arrest the senior separatist leader while talking to reporters on phone called for an “indefinite strike in Kashmir”.

“The strike will continue till demilitarisation begins on the ground,” Geelani said.

Another senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmed Shah was arrested from his house Tuesday.

Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday visited the family of the victims as, escorted by the police, she led a protest march against the alleged crime involving troopers that has triggered massive protests like the valley witnessed last year in June-July during the Amarnath land row agitation.

The worst hit is the tourist sector, which had begun to pick up after a drastic downfall last year.

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