Curfew in Kashmir, shoe-thrower get hero’s welcome (Lead)

August 18th, 2010 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 18 (IANS) Curfew continued in most towns of the Kashmir Valley Wednesday with sporadic clashes reported between stone-pelting mobs and security personnel while the suspended policeman who threw a shoe at Chief Minister Omar Abdullah received a hero’s welcome in his village.
Authorities imposed curfew in all major towns of the Valley except Ganderbal, Handwara and Shopian to prevent protests called by the hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani.

Shops, businesses, educational institutions, banks and post offices remained shut while public and private vehicles went off the roads due to the separatist-sponsored shutdown and official restrictions and curfew here.

“The overall law and order situation remained by and large peaceful today (Wednesday) except a few sporadic protests, which passed off without any critical injury to either the protesters or the security men,” a senior police officer said here.

Stone pelting protesters engaged the police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers in clashes in Kokarnag and Achabal towns of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

“The protesters were dispersed without any excessive force by the security forces,” said Deputy Inspector General (South Kashmir Range) Shafqat Ahmad.

“In Tarigam village of Kulgam district, a stone pelting mob encircled a vehicle of the special operations group (SOG) of the police, who fired in self-defence resulting in a foot injury to one of the protesters,” he added.

Protests also erupted in Narbal and the HMT crossing on the outskirts of Srinagar city after funeral prayers were offered for a youth killed in violence last week. But the protesters were dispersed peacefully.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani addressed the procession at HMT crossing over telephone and his voice was amplified through loudspeakers.

Meanwhile, a hero’s welcome was accorded to Abdul Ahad Jan, the suspended police head constable who flung a shoe at Omar Abdullah during the Independence Day parade in Srinagar’s Bakshi Stadium, when he reached his Ajas village in Bandipora district.

Jan had Tuesday met Abdullah when the latter announced his decision to pardon the shoe thrower in the spirit of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Speaking to hundreds of locals who had gathered to receive him in Ajas, Jan said he did not repent his decision to throw a shoe at Abdullah. He also claimed he had been tortured by the police during interrogation.

“They offered to promote me to the rank of a deputy superintendent of police provided I made a statement accusing Syed Ali Geelani and the former chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed for instigating me to hurl the shoe at the chief minister.

“I totally refused the offer and told the interrogators that the decision was absolutely a personal one and I am willing to face the consequences,” he said.

Ironically, Jan, during his meeting with Abdullah, had said he did not mean any insult to the chief minister, but had flung the shoe at the state director general of police whom he accused of harassment during his service career as a policeman.

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