Amid a general strike called by the Majlis-e-Mashawarat to protest against the final report of the Central Bureau of Investigation on the death of two women in Shopian, several shops were gutted in the old city in clashes between protesters and the police on Tuesday.

The strike call evoked a near-total response and all shops, business establishments, offices and banks remained closed. Traffic was also off the road. People stayed indoors and the deployment of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force and the Jammu and Kashmir Police was strengthened.

House arrest

Authorities have put separatist leaders Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan, Javed Mir, Zaffar Akbar Bhat and Salim Geelani under house arrest.

Police sources said 22 people including eight policemen were injured in protests across the Kashmir Valley.

The clashes took a serious turn in Srinagar when five shops were razed as the building housing them caught fire in Bohri Kadal Chowk. According to locals, the fire was caused by CRPF troopers firing teargas canisters inside the old wooden building. However, the police denied that the CRPF was behind the fire and said it was accidental. “There was no stone throwing in the area when the incident happened,” a police spokesman said.

He said that in the rest of the Valley, the situation remained calm with sporadic protests in some parts of Srinagar and Baramulla. “Four policemen were injured.”

Seven people were injured in the clashes between the protesters and CRPF troopers at Bohri Kadal. Protests were also witnessed at Maisuma, Safakadal, Khanyar, Batamaloo and Habba Kadal in Srinagar.

According to reports, 10 people, including five policemen were injured during the violent protests in Baramulla.

The Majlis-e-Mashawarat is spearheading the agitation against the CBI report on the alleged rape-murder of two women at Shopian in May. Tuesday’s strike was supported by both groups of the Hurriyat Conference.

In its 66-page report submitted to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday, the CBI concluded that the two women had died due to drowning in the village stream near Shopian town, 65 km from Srinagar.

The Independent Women’s Initiative for Justice (IWIJ) for Shopian has rejected the CBI report.

“We are shocked at the pack of lies and inaccuracies being deliberately advanced by the CBI in the name of investigation and scientific evidence to pass it off as a case of drowning. The brazenness of the CBI is evident in its complete discharge of the four policemen who had been suspended for tampering with evidence and dereliction of duty in the first instance,” said a statement issued by IWIJ members Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Seema Mishra, Uma Chakravarti, Usha Ramanathan, Vrinda Grover and Dr Ajitha.

The CBI filing a charge sheet against 13 civilians, including doctors, lawyers and two family members, was as a blatant act of persecution, the IWIJ said.

“Quite clearly the signal being sent out by the CBI to the people of Shopian is that anyone who dares to seek or speak the truth will be penalised.” The IWIJ would challenge the CBI findings.