No Friday prayers in Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid (Lead)

November 7th, 2008 - 9:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Nov 7 (IANS) Friday prayers were not allowed in Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid as strict curfew-like restrictions remained in force for the second day here to foil separatists’ proposed rally at the main mosque of Kashmir.Unprecedented security measures remained in place for the second consecutive day in the Kashmir Valley, with hundreds of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers on roads.

Hundreds of police and CRPF men surrounded the 13th century mosque to thwart the rally, meant to be pro-independence.

However, despite the security measures and the undeclared curfew, groups of youth took to streets in this summer capital and other towns immediately after the Friday prayers in local mosques. Clashes between protesters and security forces were reported from many towns.

Security forces fired teargas and baton-charged the protesters to disperse the stone throwing youths, shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

According to police sources, 10 people, including four policemen, were injured in the clashes.

Separatist leaders had earlier called for the march to the grand mosque in the old city’s Nowhatta area Thursday, a move scuttled by the authorities through strict enforcement of section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits assembly of four or more people.

However, coordination committee of separatist Hurriyat Conference and traders that is spearheading the anti-poll campaign in Kashmir re-scheduled the rally for Friday.

The coordination committee has called for marches to the district headquarters on poll days beginning Nov 17, when north Kashmir Bandipore district goes to polls in the first round of the seven-phased assembly election schedule.

Many separatist leaders, including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik, have been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads a faction of the Hurriyat Conference, was under house arrest.

A police officer said the restrictions will be lifted early Saturday.

“The day passed off peacefully, barring few incidents of stone pelting,” the police officer told IANS.

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