Curfew cools Srinagar after sectarian clash
Though they were protesting for different reasons, verbal duels led to fist fighting apparently with sectarian overtones thus plunging old Srinagar into a crisis.
Massive deployments of police and CRPF were made Wednesday evening and all the roads and lanes were immediately sealed off. Drop gates laced with concertina wires emerged within minutes in most of the city falling under nine police stations.
A group of news photographers who were permitted to get in to part of the city reported pin-drop silence dominating the main roads as life remained frozen in the lanes and bylanes. Barring ambulances, no movement was permitted. Shivering in cold and drenched in the rains, the cops and paramilitary men had lit roadside fires all along to stay warm.
Police during a midnight raid on Tuesday had arrested a number of youth from Nowhatta-Gojwara belt. They, according to police, were wanted in a case of stone pelting on the last day of Ashura mourning. In certain cases in which the accused were found missing from their home, their parents were rounded up. As the residents came out against the nocturnal raids, otherwise banned by the apex court, police used tear smoke shells, and, according to residents, firing in air to scare them away.
Wednesday morning all the shops in the area were closed in protest. They were seeking release of detainees and the elderly and a stop to the midnight raids.
At the same time, another group of youth in Zadibal, a Shia Muslim neighbourhood, was protesting against the recovery of a shoe, manufactured by a Chinese company. Its sole carried an insignia that looked similar to a respected Muslim name. Though the shoe was traced somewhere to a north Kashmir shop, small street protests were reported from various places.
These two protesting groups have somewhere exchanged verbal duels somewhere and that triggered a brief clash amid bouts of ransacking. Police immediately swung into action and prevented escalation of tensions. They denied ransacking but admitted the clash had sectarian overtones. All the religious and political leaders from across the ideological divide have called for maintaining peace.
Police said they are in touch with the respectable’s of the communities and the localities involved in the particular situation and they will ensure there is no fuss once the curfew is lifted. Indications suggestions the restrictions shall remain till Friday evening. It was not immediately known, if the parents of the wanted youth were set free or not.
Curfew restrictions threw life out of gear in Srinagar. Though uptown was open, there were not many people around. Shops were open but markets remained deserted. Schools remained locked and offices had thin attendance because moving out of curfew bound areas became difficult for the people. All the peripheral towns reported normal though the connectivity between Srinagar and most of the towns in countryside was partially operational.