Stringent security restrictions were reimposed in Kashmir Valley, especially around the office of the United Nations (U.N.) in Srinagar, on August 23 amid the reports of separatists’ planning a protest march towards it. Spools of concertina wires and iron barricades blocked all the three roads leading to the U.N. office in Srinagar’s Sonwar area.
Buses were used as barriers to stop marchers from heading towards the office. A police official said the measure was taken after posters were pasted on several electricity poles and walls in the old city’s Soura area, asking people to march towards the U.N. These posters were attributed to the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). However, the police said no high-ranking separatist leader is free or having communications to issues such calls. “It’s being investigated,” he added.
As a “precautionary measure”, no Friday prayers were allowed at the major mosques in the Valley, including the shrine of Syed Sahib at Somnawar and Jamia Masjid at Nowahatta. The authorities said most prayers passed off peacefully across the Valley. However, protest marches were carried out from Soura and Chanapora areas.
Eyewitnesses said protesters clashed with security forces, who fired smoke shells and pellet shotguns to disperse the demonstration. “Around four locals were injured in Soura,” a local told The Hindu .
The officials neither denied nor confirmed these casualties. Fresh restrictions brought the valley to a grinding halt again. No vehicles were allowed to move even in commercial hub Lal Chowk.
Mobile telephony and Internet services continued to remain shut for the 19th day on August 23.