Curfew, clashes and shutdown hit Kashmir Valley again (Lead)

August 21st, 2010 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 21 (IANS) At least 40 people were arrested and dozens injured as protestors clashed with police near this capital city Saturday, a day after security forces shot dead a man in Bijbehara. Separatists groups called for a shutdown across the Kashmir Valley Saturday.
Widespread protests broke out in Bemina, on the outskirts of Srinagar, Saturday afternoon when police arrested some local youths on charges of being stone-pelters.

Locals took to the streets shouting slogans against the police who, they alleged, had entered their homes and arrested innocent youths and ransacked their houses.

Reports said the police arrested around 40 youths who are now being screened to ascertain how many of them have actually been involved in stone-pelting protests during the recent days.

More than two dozen people, including protestors and policemen, were injured in Bemina where police used batons and tear gas to disperse the protestors.

Curfew was imposed in nine police station areas of Srinagar besides Anantnag and Bijbehera towns while restrictions are already in place in Sopore, Baramulla, Handwara and Kupwara towns, a police officer said here.

“Following information that miscreants and anti-social elements intend to disrupt peace and prompt the youths to violence, preventive measures have been taken to protect civilian life and property,” he said.

Protests and clashes were reported from Chanapora locality in Srinagar and north Kashmir’s Sopore and Baramulla towns.

Protestors clashed with the security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Anantnag and Shopian towns.

“Security forces used batons and burst tear smoke canisters at places where clashes erupted today, but nobody has sustained any serious injury anywhere,” a senior police officer said.

Authorities imposed restrictions on people’s movements in Bijbehara, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian.

So far, 62 people have lost their lives in the unrest that started June 11.

Nazir Ahmad, 28, was killed in firing by security forces Friday in Bijbehara when a mob surrounded a police station and tried to set it ablaze using petrol bombs.

Another teenager, Mudasir Nazir, 18, was killed in firing by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Sopore when a mob attacked a CRPF team that was withdrawing after the day’s duties there.

Residents of Sopore allege the CRPF troopers fired without provocation.

The separatist Hurriyat group headed by hardline Syed Ali Shah Geelani had called for a shutdown across the valley Saturday as part of his group’s “Quit Kashmir” campaign.

Shops, educational institutions, banks, post offices and businesses were closed because of curfew and restrictions in parts of the city.

And in areas where there were no restrictions, life was paralysed due to the separatist-sponsored shutdown.

Newspaper owners here have alleged that the distribution of their newspapers has been halted by police in both northern and southern parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Copies of newspapers are being seized by police before these can reach our distributors in north and south Kashmir districts,” a newspaper editor here said.

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