Demonstrations against Shopian killings in Srinagar, Baramulla and Bandipore

A turbulence spawning out of the death of five persons in the CRPF firing in Shopian has revived separatist demonstrations on the University of Kashmir campuses on Friday after a long pause of tranquillity. Not-so-sizable groups of students converged on the corridors on Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call after the congregational prayers concluded at the mosques in the afternoon. They shouted anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans to protest the “innocent civilian killings”— notwithstanding the police claim that the September 7 ‘encounter’ at Gagran was the consequence of Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Abdullah Haroon’s armed scuffle with the guards.

Three of the four persons killed on the spot were subsequently identified as local youths who, by the police admission, had no history of involvement with armed insurgency.

Friday’s demonstrations on the Hazratbal campus are being viewed in conflict to Vice-Chancellor Talat Ahmad’s efforts at “cleaning the institute of learning of all anti-national politics.” Even as a section of the students and the faculty has shown receptivity to Prof. Talat’s initiative of expanding the exchange programmes with certain foreign universities — including his bolder ambitions of getting Rahul Gandhi, top industrialists and, lately, the German ambassador as guest speakers — quite a number of the community have attributed uncharitable motives to his activism.

Prof. Talat is said to have restricted liberties of over a dozen teachers who have been on the forefront of cultivating the secessionist ideology and anti-India sentiment among the students. Departments of Law, English and Journalism are known to be under the VC’s scanner. Last week, authorities had withdrawn all the 200-odd invitation cards after they learnt that some teachers and students had planned to disrupt Zubin Mehta’s historic concert at Shalimar Bagh.

Curfew, clashes continue

Protest demonstrations over the Shopian deaths were also reported on Friday from parts of downtown Srinagar, Baramulla and Bandipore. Curfew continues to be in force in south Kashmir districts of Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag. Reports of curfew violation and attack on the police came in from Shopian. For the first time, intra-valley train services were suspended for fear of attacks.

In downtown Srinagar, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat took out a rally condemning the Shopian incidents and shouting pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans. Another rally was arranged by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party leader, Mehbooba Mufti, in Civil Lines. It was terminated by force near Lalchowk and prevented from reaching its destination of the Civil Secretariat.

Mr. Geelani has called for complete shutdown on Saturday and Sunday.