In a dramatic and unfortunate turn of events, curfew restrictions were enforced in parts of the old city after a series of clashes took place in various localities in and around Hawal. The number of injured was not immediately known and police denied instances of ransacking.
Taking serious note of the situation and the potential of tensions extended to other places, Deputy Commissioner has formally ordered impositions of curfew restrictions in areas falling over nine police stations. Effective deployments have been made even as it started raining, apparently prelude to season’s first snowfall in the Valley’s plains.
Residents and police to whom Kashmir Life talked offered details of a chain of events that led to a situation in which curfew was imposed.
Wednesday morning most of the shops in Gojwara belt were closed. Locals said they are protesting against the arrest of a number of youth by police during overnight raids. “There were midnight protests,” a resident Abdul Hamid said. “Once, even tear smoke shells were used to quell the mobs who protested the nocturnal raids.” Though locals talk of number of arrests – as high as 40, police skipped offering any details or a figure.
Late in the afternoon, police admitted “some detentions” in Nowhatta. “The police is (sic) investigating the matter and those found not involved will be released,” the spokesman said. “The police is (sic) in touch with the respectable in the area.”
Police intelligence sources said the arrests were carried out in a case of stone pelting on the last day of Muharam mourning. “The pelting was controlled by police but the case is there,” the officer said, offering no more details. Gojwara was tension ridden but till noon there was no incident of any obstruction to movement.
In Zadibal, there were protests too, but for an altogether different reason. A number of youth were on roads protesting against the recovery of a shoe – discovered somewhere in a north Kashmir town, on Monday. The Chinese manufacture, allegedly, was carrying an insignia on its sole that looked like a respected name for Muslims. The highly charged youth blocked vehicular movement and were shouting slogans. Similar small street protests were reported to police from Saida Kadal, S K Bagh, Nowgam, Chitragam (Chadoora), Shadipora (Sumbal) and Chandpora (Magam). In Saida Kadal, protestors had actually set afire a few car tyres on the road that blocked the traffic.
“They were quite a few, almost everywhere,” one police official said. “But disturbance does not need a sea of people.”
Factions of these two protests have entered in some verbal duels somewhere in between and it triggered the crisis that led to the imposition of curfew. There have been cases of individual marshalling and a lot of rumour mongering that led to a bout of ransacking as well. Police, however, denied instances of ransacking in its evening brief e-mail to the media.
The only way to control a charged atmosphere was to impose restrictions, officials said. The last police brief reads: “Police has taken the cognizance of some skirmishes between two sectarian communities in Zadibal area. The civil and Police administration are monitoring the situation. There are no reports of anybody getting injured. However, sporadic incidents of stone pelting have been reported.”