Srinagar, Aug 2: A shutdown called by separatists against the announcement of a pilgrimage by the Kashmiri Pandits and the consequent official restrictions marred normal life on Saturday. Shops, public transport and other businesses remained closed here and in other major towns of the Kashmir Valley. However, government offices, banks and post offices functioned normally.
Authorities imposed restrictions in Khanyar, Rainawari, M.R. Gunj and Safa Kadal areas here and security personnel were deployed in Srinagar City, Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag and other towns. ”The restrictions in these areas have been imposed to prevent anti-social elements from disturbing peace,” a police official told IANS here.
Hardline separatist leader Geelani called for a protest shutdown in the Valley on Saturday against the Kausarnag Yatra announced by some Kashmiri Pandits who say the yatra is a pilgrimage undertaken by their ancestors since time immemorial. They also say the Kausarnag Yatra was stopped after the outbreak of separatist violence in the Valley in early 1990s.
Authorities have placed senior leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah, under house arrest in Srinagar. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive detention by the police on Friday. On the other hand, Kashmiri separatists say the starting of the yatra is a ploy by communal forces and it also endangers the delicate ecology of the region.