Clashes in Srinagar after news of assault on Mirwaiz

Thursday, November 25, 2010

SRINAGAR - Old city areas of Srinagar witnessed clashes between protesters and security forces Thursday as the news about manhandling of the moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq by Kashmiri Pandits in Chandigarh spread.

Fearing more trouble, the authorities this evening decided to impose curfew in areas falling under five police stations of the old city Friday.

Security forces had to use tear smoke and resort to baton-charges as groups of Mirwaiz’s supporters took to streets in old city areas shouting slogans. The protesters forced closure of shops in the old city and pelted stones at passing vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Mirwaiz said that the attack on him “would not deter me from reaching out to the people in India to make them aware about the immediate need to resolve the Kashmir issue”.

Assuring he was safe and sound, he said he will now be travelling to Kolkata to attend another seminar there.

Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has strongly condemned the attack on Mirwaiz in Chandigarh today.

In a statement the PDP president said the “roughing up of the prominent religious and political leader of Kashmir was highly condemnable act which had to be disapproved by anyone believing in freedom of speech”.

“The right to express one’s views is a fundamental right and any attempt to curb it through illegal and strong arm methods was fascist and undemocratic,” she said, adding: “In any case Mirwaiz was only attending a seminar with a view to exchanging of ideas in a peaceful, civilized and democratic manner.”

The Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti (KPSS) also condemned “the act committed by some rightwing Hindu groups in Chandigarh under the Kashmir Pandit banner to widen the gap between Kashmiri communities”.

In a statement, KPSS president Sanjay K. Tickoo also demanded a probe in the role of union territory officials and the seminar organisers “who allowed the people to instigate the situation that can lead to more damage in Kashmir Valley”.

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