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Kashmir under curfew, dailies fail to hit stands

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: October 06, 2008 14:56 IST
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Curfew restrictions continued for the second day in Kashmir valley where an uneasy calm prevailed Monday.

Lal Chowk, the focus of today's separatist march is under siege with paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) not allowing any movement in the area, having sealed its all entry and exit points.

Apart from specially made mobile iron gates and razor-fitted wire, the paramilitary CRPF has also parked armoured vehicles diagonally on the roads to block them.

Localities around the city centre also saw heavy deployment of paramilitary and police in full riot gear to thwart any attempts to breach the curfew restrictions.

The authorities have decided not to give any curfew relaxation today in view of the tense situation.

A relaxation in curfew is expected only tomorrow, provided the day passes off peacefully, according to a senior police officer.

Complaints of shortages of essentials items, particularly milk and non-issuance of curfew passes to the needy especially for the marriages scheduled for today have come in from various localities.

The marriage ceremonies have been drastically curtailed to make these otherwise lavish and protracted functions as simple and short as possible.

The authorities, however, say they are allowing the groom and few of his relatives to accompany him to the bride's house.

Reports from north Kashmir Baramulla town said several hundred people breached curfew restrictions and took out a procession in the old town chanting pro-freedom slogans.

However, the protestors later dispersed peacefully after burning an effigy of the Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari who in an interview had labelled the militants as terrorists.

In the Safakadal locality of the old city, protestors indulged in stone pelting on police and paramilitary CRPF who responded by firing tear smoke and baton charges.

Situation in other curfew-bound towns is reported to be calm. While the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq is under house arrest, Syed Ali Shah Geelani is still convalescing at the Institute of Medical Sciences Soura.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was yesterday arrested from the JKLF headquarters while Jamiat Ahli Hadees president Maulana Showkat Ahmad Shah was picked up from his home in Lal Bazzar locality.

The local newspapers could not hit the stands today because of what the newspaper management say "non-issuance of adequate curfew passes to them."

However, the state authorities say curfew passes have been issued to the newspaper staff to enable them to publish their newspapers.

The separatist co-ordination committee had called today's march for the second time after the Ramadan hiatus.

The earlier march was also foiled by the state authorities who imposed a curfew for nine long days on August 24.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar