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Protests, violence erupts in Valley: Separatists barred from offering Eid prayers
SRINAGAR, Aug 20: Even after arrest of almost all prominent separatist leaders, clashes broke out between police and protesters immediately after Eid prayers at Srinagar's old city area of Eidgah and in Sopore town of Baramulla district. A police van was burnt down in Srinagar while at Sopore, youths pelted stones on Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) pickets located inside State Bank of India (SBI).

The separatist accused the government of provoking people on the festival by arresting the entire separatist leadership and banning their speeches.

Angry over not allowing Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to lead prayers at Eidgah, protests broke out in the area soon after Eid prayers.

Mirwaiz traditionally leads the prayers at Eidgah, where people from all the walks of life offer Eid prayer.

Soon after the prayers, three cops of Jammu and Kashmir Police were severely thrashed by youths at Aali-Masjid Srinagar and their van was set on fire when the cops were on their way to Soura.

According to reports, a police van, pertaining to Qamarwari police division bearing registration number JK01N-2184, was on its way to Soura when scores of youths intercepted it near Aali-Masjid, Idgah.

They dragged the 3 policemen, including the driver, out of the vehicle and thrashed them severly.

"Their (policemen) unifrom was torn into pieces and they were beaten to pulp. One of the policeman tried to fire in the air, however before doing so he was overpowered by the youths and beaten up," an eye-witness told IBNS.

Agitated youths sprinkled petrol on the police van and set it on fire.

When contacted, a top police officer confirmed the incident but added that it is not clear whether the weapons were also snatched from them or not.

The three cops were identified as Sub-Inspector, Ghulam Hassan, Hawaldar, Bashir Ahmed and Constable Gulzar Ahmed.

Hurriyat Conference (M) spokesman said that over a dozen youth were injured in police action. He alleged several youth have been taken into custody by police.

“Police party was on way to SKIMS, Soura to collect body of vehicular accident victim. It was stopped and beaten by a mob at Eidgah. The vehicle in which party was travelling got damaged,” a Police spokesman said. Several policemen have sustained injuries in the incident.

Mirwaiz strongly condemned arrest of separatist leaders and described it as interference in religious rights.

"Even on Eid, our religious rights were usurped. This is speaks about fascist approach of this government," Mirwaiz said.

"Today’s crackdown on pro-freedom leaders exposed the government before the international community," he added.

Hurriyat accused the government for silencing the voices of people and described putting entire Hurriyat leadership in custody as an attempt keep separatist leaders away from people.

Mirwaiz addressed Eidgah congregation telephonically.

“Government is resorting to suppressive tactics. But it will not force us to submission. They will not succeed in breaking our resolve,” he said.

Violent protests also erupted in north Kashmir's Sopore district where, immediately after Eid prayers in the morning, protesters started pelting stones at security forces in the town, 55 km away from Srinagar.

The youths assembled near State Bank of India building where CRPF is deployed to guard the Bank.

They pelted stones on CRPF personnel and raised anti-India slogans.

The police and CRPF personnel retaliated and fired some tear gas shells to disperse the agitated youths.

People were protesting against the government's clampdown separatist leaders.

Police put Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah.

Geelani was taken into custody when he stepped out of his Hyderpora resident to offer prayer at Hazratabal shrine early this morning.

Geelani was scheduled to pray at ruling National Conference run shrine of Hazratbal in Srinagar.

“When Geelani sahib stepped out of his house, he was taken into custody by team led by SHO Humhama,” said Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar.

He said over a dozen Hurriyat leaders including its’ General Secretary Muhammad Ashraf Sehari have been also taken into custody.

“This is state terrorism at it its worst. On such an important religious festival we were barred from offering prayers,” Akbar said.

However, he sarcastically added that this was expected of Omar Abdullah led Government. “Omar Abdullah and his party have always acted against people and have been always out to crush and suppress masses,” Akbar said.

JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was scheduled to address people at TRC mosque, was not allowed to move out of his house.

Malik described the arrest as infringement on his religious rights. “On such an auspicious occasion the government took nastiest step to keep us away from people. Government is afraid of our contact with people. It is afraid of our arguments. Because, it has no arguments. So they take refuge in draconian measures like arrests, even on festivals. But they will not succeed in keeping us away from people for long,” Malik said.

On Sunday in a major crackdown, all the prominent Hurriyat leaders – including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq , Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed – were put under house arrest by the police besides raiding dozens of places across the valley looking for the ground-level workers of the separatist leadership.

Eid congregations in other parts of the valley were peaceful with people exchanging greetings and visiting relatives and neighbours as per local tradition.

Barring certain instances of anti-India sloganeering and protests in Sopore, Baramulla and other parts of Srinagar, Eid celebrations remained a peaceful process across the state.
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News Updated at : Monday, August 20, 2012
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