Lal Chowk in Srinagar sealed to foil separatists march

Lal Chowk in Srinagar sealed to foil separatists march

Security personnel guard during the strike call given by separatist leaders against urban local bodies elections, at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. (PTI Photo/S Irfan)

Authorities on Tuesday sealed city center Lal Chowk in Srinagar to thwart a march called by Kashmiri separatist leaders against the killing of seven civilians in Kulgam on Sunday.

Seven civilians were killed in a blast at the site of a gunfight in Laroo village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Sunday morning after three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed in an encounter with security forces. The separatists had called for a state-wide shutdown on Monday and a march to the city center on Tuesday.

The police imposed stringent curbs in Lal Chowk and adjoining areas and parts of old city fearing protests and clashes, while separatist leaders were either confined to their homes or taken into “preventive custody.” Last evening, the police had issued an advisory, asking commuters to use an alternate route as “the stretch of road from Amira Kadal to Regal Chowk will be blocked for traffic”

Barricades have been erected by the police at Amira Kadal (bridge) and the Regal Chowk to prevent any movement towards the historic Lal Chowk.  Spools of concertina wire were placed on roads to block movement of people and prevent large gatherings.

Police detained pro-independence JKLF chief Yasin Malik on Tuesday morning after he tried to march towards clock tower in Lal Chowk along with his dozen-odd supporters.  Malik, who had gone into hiding to evade his arrest, appeared at a mosque in Kokerbazar early today.

Addressing reporters before his detention, Malik warned of an agitation if the killings were not stopped in Kashmir.

Authorities also suspended the high-speed Internet service in Srinagar in view of proposed separatist march and sit-in. An official said that the speed of mobile Internet service has been throttled to 2G in the capital city as a “precautionary measure”.  Schools and colleges have been closed for the day in Srinagar district.