Kashmir braces for Hurriyat march to UN officeAugust 18th, 2008 - 11:05 am ICT by IANS
Srinagar, Aug 18 (IANS) Hundreds of security personnel were deployed here Monday as the separatist Hurriyat Conference prepared for its march to the UN office to present a memorandum seeking permanent resolution of the Kashmir issue. “We have made elaborate security arrangements to disallow large gathering around the United Nations Military Observes’ Group (UNMOG) in Srinagar,” said a police official.
Sources told IANS that the authorities were in two minds till late Sunday on whether to impose a curfew to bar Hurriyat supporters from gathering at a place that is dotted by “very sensitive offices and installations which could become the targets of miscreants if the rally was allowed”.
However, the government later requested the Hurrriyat to keep the crowds small, worried that a large group could lead to fresh clashes with security forces.
Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said: “The memorandum seeks UN intervention for the permanent resolution of Kashmir issue in the wake of the economic blockade imposed on the valley.”
A large number of police and paramilitary troopers was in place in the uptown areas of Srinagar behind barricades and razor-fitted concertina wires to prevent crowds from going beyond the Tourist Reception Centre, about 200 metres from the UN office.
All the entry points to the UN office were blocked and manned by hundreds of security forces.
“We have strict orders not to allow anybody beyond this point,” a police constable told IANS. He was standing along with hundreds of his colleagues near the Radio Kashmir station.
The strong presence of security forces led to fears that trouble may be in the offing if Hurriyat supporters gather in large numbers.
But, according to sources, the government has instructed security personnel to use maximum restraint and minimise use of force in case the gathering turns rowdy.
The authorities have also instructed the police not to use bullets to disperse crowds.