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Anti-poll strike: Curfew-like situation in the Valley

Source: PTI
April 29, 2009 13:17 IST
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A curfew-like situation prevailed in Kashmir Valley on Wednesday as authorities deployed thousands of security personnel to maintain law and order following a 50-hour strike called by separatists to protest against holding of polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Heavy deployment has been made in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley as the strike called by Chairman of hardliner faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani commenced on a violent note on Tuesday evening with groups of youth, shouting anti-election slogans, clashed with the police at several places in Srinagar leaving 12 persons injured.

Several top separatist leaders including Geelani and moderate Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have been placed under house arrest. While Geelani is under house arrest since April 12, Mirwaiz and other leaders of the moderate faction were put under house arrest on Tuesday evening.

Nearly two dozen prominent separatist leaders have been put behind bars. Police and paramilitary personnel were seen driving back people to their homes and patrolling the deserted streets to foil any attempt by separatists to take out processions.

Almost all shops and business establishments, government offices, educational institutions, banks, courts and semi-government establishments are closed and public transport off the roads in the valley due to the strict restrictions imposed by the security forces in view of the general strike.

The residents in many places of the Valley complained that security personnel were not allowing them to come out of their houses. However, the police denied imposition of curfew but said they have been given strict orders not to allow gathering of four or more people together as Section 144 of the Ranbir Panel Code was in force at all places.

"Government employees are being allowed to reach their offices", a police spokesman claimed. Roads in the city have been sealed with barbed and razor wires and barricades to thwart separatist's plans to take out protest demonstrations.

Criticising the government action in the run-up to polls as "undemocratic", a spokesman of Hurriyat said despite curbs imposed on activities of the separatists, the Hurriyat would continue with its meet-the-people programmes and tell Kashmiris to shun the Lok Sabha elections.

"Hurriyat will not be bogged down by such moves," he said.

Anantnag constituency is slated to go to polls on Thursday.

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