Sunday, September 12, 2010


Srinagar: Eid abruptly came to an end all too soon in Srinagar on Saturday when a section of the crowd dispersing after namaz attacked a police post at Hazratbal shrine and burned government buildings at Lal Chowk in the heart of the city. Chief minister Omar Abdullah had been expected to go for Eid namaaz at Hazratbal but flew to Delhi instead. This is the first time an Eid ul-Fitr congregation became a protest rally, a police spokesperson said even as chief minister Omar Abdullah blamed moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for provoking arson. There were no reports of serious injury although police fired teargas shells and warning shots in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Senior police officers, including Jammu & Kashmir DGP Kuldeep Khoda, rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control but for the most part, police stayed clear of provoking confrontation. Late in the evening, stonepelters clashed with police at various places. The CRPF was called in to help police.
Abdullah said, "Separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik had sought permission from my office for holding peaceful protests at Lal Chowk. They were allowed but they betrayed us." The latest spate of violence has catapulted hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the centre of the azadi campaign. Many see Saturday's protest by the Mirwaiz, who this week teamed up with the virtually defunct JKLF head Yasin Malik, as a desperate attempt to stay politically relevant. Mirwaiz, however, denied making any commitment to the state government that there would be no violence. "Yes,we wanted to hold a peaceful sit-in at Lal Chowk. But some elements turned violent after the demonstration was over," he said. It's thought it may be an attempt to stay politically relevant. At Eidgah in downtown Srinagar, thousands had gathered for the namaaz. During his Eid sermon, Mirwaiz asked people to march to Lal Chowk for a 30-minute sit-in against the recent killings of protesters. Malik and Jamiat Ahle-Hadees president Maulana Showkat Shah also led people gathered for Eid namaaz at TRC grounds to Lal Chowk.


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