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Restrictions in Kashmir to prevent protests

Source: PTI
December 19, 2008 13:09 IST
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Curfew-like situation prevailed in Kashmir Valley today, as authorities imposed stringent restrictions on the movement of people to prevent separatists from staging protest rallies during the day.

Thousands of security personnel have been deployed in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley as the Separatist Coordination Committee (SSC) had called for protests after Friday prayers against the ongoing Assembly elections.

In wake of restrictions imposed by the administration and strike call by the separatists, all shops, business establishments, government offices, banks, courts, educational institutes and other semi-government institutions are closed, officials said.

Vehicles were also off the roads here and in other parts of the Valley, they said.

The SCC gave a strike call and peaceful protests against the polls after Friday prayers. "We appeal people to stage peaceful protests after prayers to protest against the polls

which are being held to hoodwink the international community about the Kashmir dispute," chairman of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said.

"We hope people of Srinagar will respect the sacrifices of martyrs," he said, claiming, "People should stay away from so-called elections which have no legitimacy in Kashmir."

Police and paramilitary personnel were seen patrolling the deserted streets in bid to foil attempts by separatists to stage protests.

Government employees and residents alleged that security personnel were not allowing them to come out of their houses as if curfew had been imposed.

"Police vehicles fitted with public address systems made a round of the city in the wee hours asking people not to venture out of their houses as curfew has been imposed," a resident claimed.

Police, however, denied any curfew, saying security forces have been given strict orders not to allow gathering of four or more people at any place as Section 144 of the CrPC was in force.

Officials said preventive measures were taken to maintain law and order and to prevent loss of any life or property which takes place during the protests.

There is no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the Valley so far and the situation is under control, sources said.

While most of the separatists have been arrested since the announcement of election schedule for the state on October 19, chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference, the Mirwaiz, and Syed Ali Shah Geelani had been placed under house arrest. 

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