Authorities on Friday prevented the hardline Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani, from leading a march to the United Nations office here and kept him under house arrest. However, the day saw youth taking to the streets and clashing with the police, closure of shops and disruption of traffic. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat faction, and senior leaders of the conglomerate were also placed under house arrest to prevent them from going to Anantnag district for a rally.
The police detained Mr. Geelani outside his Hyderpora residence when he tried to break a police cordon to lead the march. He was whisked away in a police vehicle to the police station at Humhama.
Mr. Geelani had called a march to the office of the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan to submit a memorandum, seeking U.N. intervention to grant the people of Kashmir the right to self-determination.
“As our leader had announced, we will march to the U.N. office demanding the right to self-determination,” his spokesman Saif-Ullah told journalists. Even as he was addressing the media, the police appeared on the scene. This irked youth near Koker Bazar and Maisuma, who staged demonstrations. They pelted the police with stones and bricks. The police fired teargas shells. As the clashes spread to Madina Chowk and Basant Bagh, shopkeepers downed the shutters and traffic was also hit.
Earlier, youth took to the streets in Rajouri Kadal, Nowhatta, Kawdara, Fateh Kadal, Baba demb, Nawab Bazar, Habba Kadal and other areas of the old city in response to the Hurriyat's call and staged demonstrations. They tried to march towards the Sonwar office of the U.N. However, the CRPF and the police resorted to a lathi charge and the protesters threw stones. The ding-dong battle continued for several hours.
Early in the morning, Mohammad Shafiq Sheikh, 40, was critically injured when a bus in which he was travelling was hit by a hail of stones near the Batmaloo bus stand, the police said. Shafiq, who suffered a serious head injury, was rushed to the SMHS Hospital, from where he was referred to the SK Institute of Medical Sciences. But he died on the way. As news of his death spread in Natipora and adjoining areas, shops were closed, and groups of youth, shouting slogans, engaged police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel in pitched battles that lasted several hours.