Security forces on Monday foiled separatist attempts to march towards the army’s Valley headquarters here by clamping curfew-like restrictions in parts of Kashmir and arresting the leaders who had called for the march.
The Valley has been seething since the forces killed seven civilians and injured dozens near an encounter site in Pulwama, south Kashmir, on Saturday. Monday was the second day of a three-day shutdown called against the killings.
A rare separatist call to march towards the Badami Bagh Cantonment, the headquarters of the army’s 15 Corps, had raised fears of a showdown. The army had on Sunday said it would prevent the march and thwart all “evil attempts of terrorist-separatist-Pakistan nexus” to pit the civilian population against the security forces.
The separatists made multiple attempts to march towards the cantonment but were stopped before they could mobilise larger crowds.
Jammu and Kashmir Front chairman Yasin Malik led one such attempt from Maisuma near the city centre but the police swung into action and arrested him and some of his supporters.
The shroud-wearing Malik and his supporters resisted the police for sometime. They walked for a short distance and chanted slogans against the forces’ “atrocities” before the police bundled them into their vehicles.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, joined by dozens of his supporters, tried to kick off the march from his Nageen residence in the city. A heavy police contingent detained him and broke up the mob.
The Mirwaiz condemned the forces’ killing of seven civilians, who included students and the father of a three-month-old baby.
“We cannot see the bodies of our young ones every day. Let them (the army) finish us all,” he said while addressing his supporters before being detained by the police.
Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani was kept under house arrest to prevent him from leading a march. People’s Democratic Party leaders staged protests inside the civil secretariat in Jammu and chanted slogans against governor Satya Pal Malik.
The authorities had erected barricades at multiple places on the roads leading to the key army installation. Thousands of security personnel were stationed on the roads to foil the march.
No traffic was allowed on a 10km stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu highway near the cantonment. An advisory had on Sunday evening asked people to take alternative routes.
The shutdown paralysed the Valley and kept traffic off the roads. Businesses, schools, colleges and offices were closed. Internet services remained suspended for a second day.