Thousands offer Eid prayers amid sporadic violence in Kashmir

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SRINAGAR - Thousands of Muslims offered Eid-ul-Azha prayers across the Kashmir Valley Wednesday even as youth at some places clashed with the security forces, pelting stones and raising pro-freedom slogans.

Some prominent separatist leaders, including hardliners Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Shabir Ahmad Shah, were placed under house arrest by the authorities to prevent them from inciting the youth to violence.

“Some separatist leaders have been placed under house arrest to prevent them from inciting the youth to violence,” a senior police officer said here.

A police vehicle was torched by a slogan shouting mob in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district which later also attacked the office of the local district magistrate.

“The security forces exercised absolute restraint to avoid any civilian casualty on the holy occasion,” said Shafqat Ahmad Watali, deputy inspector general of police (DIG), south Kashmir range.

Slogan shouting protesters also pelted stones at the security forces in the old city’s Rajouri Kadal area.

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters who kept on regrouping from the lanes and bylanes in the densely populated area.

After offering Eid prayers at the Eidgah grounds in old city, many youth took out a procession shouting pro-freedom slogans.

A small group of youth shouted slogans after the congregational Eid prayers were over at the Hazratbal shrine in summer capital Srinagar, but later dispersed peacefully.

Protesters also clashed with the security forces in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal town, but police said they were chased away.

Eid prayers were also offered at all other towns and villages of the Valley.

Police said barring a few incidents of stone pelting in north Kashmir’s Handwara and Trehgam towns and in Humhama, Rajouri Kadal and Safa Kadal areas of Srinagar, no major incident of violence had occurred anywhere so far.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-freedom Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), joined devotees and offered prayers at the TRC grounds in Srinagar.

Earlier Malik addressed the Eid congregation at TRC grounds and said the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people would end only after it reached its logical conclusion.

Heavy deployment of police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been made throughout the summer capital to ensure no violence occurs here.

The security forces disallowed all vehicular and pedestrian movement in city centre Lal to ensure that violence did not recur here as it had during Eid-ul-Fitr festival two-and-a-half months ago.

A huge procession led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq had marched towards city centre Lal Chowk from the Eidgah grounds in the old city after the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers last time. The procession had later turned violent, torching a number of government offices in the city.

“The deployment made today is to ensure that people celebrate Eid peacefully and anti-social elements are prevented from creating a law and order situation here,” a police official said.

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