A large number of youths took to the streets in Srinagar on Friday and clashed with security forces over the arrest of Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam and the government’s “lack of action” following the death of a youth in army operations in Tral on Monday.
The protests started after Friday prayers in Srinagar’s old city.
While Hurriyat (M) leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, sitting atop a vehicle in his traditional gown, led a peaceful protest after the prayers at the Jama Masjid, youths came out on the streets in Srinagar shouting pro-Azadi slogans and indulged in stone throwing. Locals said more than 18 people were injured in the clashes.
Mr. Alam was arrested on Friday morning on charges of organising a pro-freedom rally and raising a Pakistani flag in Srinagar.
“We arrested him [Mr. Alam] this morning after instructions were given by the government. Alam has now been shifted to the Humhama Interrogation Camp,” a senior police official said.
Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mr. Alam were slated to hold a rally in Tral on Friday, but it had to be cancelled after Mr. Alam was arrested and the government imposed restrictions. Mr. Geelani has called for a shutdown on Saturday.
Union Minister of State in the PMO, Jitender Singh, said, “Our stand has always been consistent on terrorism, separatism. We formed a coalition in J&K for the sake of governance. Therefore, nobody should go away [with] this impression that we will compromise on our principles for the sake of staying in the government.”
Chief Minister Mufti Mohd. Sayeed had earlier come under criticism from Opposition parties and human rights organisations for offering a “weak” condemnation of the killing of 24-year-old Khalid Muzafar by the Army in Tral.
His family and locals said he was a civilian while the Army and the police alleged that he had links with militants.
Senior National Conference leader Nasir Aslam Wani told The Hindu : “PDP leaders, especially Mr. Sayeed’s daughter and PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, often visited places where killings and human rights violations took place. Now, all that they are asking is for the Army to be cautious.”