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Kashmir Valley under curfew, JKLF chief held

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
October 05, 2008 16:39 IST
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A round-the-clock curfew was imposed in Kashmir Valley in the wee hours of Sunday to foil the Monday's separatist march to city centre, Lal Chowk.

Hours before the imposition of curfew, police swooped on the pro-Independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front headquarters in Maisuma locality near Lal Chowk and detained the outfit's chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik.

Malik was heading the committee charged with making arrangements for the march. He had on Saturday visited the various localities around Lal Chowk to finalize the arrangements. 

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was hospitalized late Saturday following chest pain.

Police vehicles appeared in various city areas and also in other towns early on Sunday announcing the imposition of an indefinite curfew and directing people to remain indoors.

Summer capital Srinagar was agog with curfew imposition rumours for the past few days as the separatist coordination committee reiterated it was going ahead with Lal Chowk march on Monday.

The state administration started massive deployment of army, paramilitary and police in the entire valley around midnight and used prefabricated iron gates and razor fitted wire coils to seal localities around Lal chowk.

The authorities had already banned the assembly of five or more persons across the valley with the imposition of restriction under section 144 of the CrPC.

While Central Reserve Police Force and police are enforcing curfew restrictions in capital city, army troops are assisting the local administration in strict application of curfew in other towns and villages.

All entry points to city centre Lal Chowk, the venue of Monday's march, have been sealed.

The authorities, it may be mentioned, had earlier foiled separatists' attempts to hold a rally in Lal Chowk on September 25 when a nine-day-long strict curfew had to be enforced in the Valley.

The march was postponed for over a month because of the fasting month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid.

The separatists have organised four marches, which were attended by thousands of people in past three months. 

The present trouble in Kashmir erupted in June this year after the state government allotted 40 hectares of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board. The land allotment order was subsequently cancelled spanning a counter 63-day long agitation in Jammu. Later, an agreement was reached between the government and the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti leading to restoration of the land to the shrine board for use during the yatra period.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar