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Massive protests rock Srinagar

Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar | August 22, 2008 13:11 IST
Last Updated: August 22, 2008 20:03 IST


Tens of thousands of people offered Friday prayers at the sprawling Eidgah grounds in summer capital Srinagar [Images] in response to the separatist call for a massive rally on Friday.

 

Using all possible modes of transport, people started pouring into the Eidgah grounds from early this morning, from all over the valley, which by afternoon had swollen with crowds spilling into the lanes and by-lanes in adjoining localities.

Violence escalates in Kashmir

 

Small and big processions cutting across age and gender divide, started streaming into the grounds, shouting slogans of 'azadi'.

 

History was made when the Eidgah grounds were used first time for Friday prayers, which otherwise is used only for Eid prayers.

 

The sprawling Eidgah has been witness to many religio-political historic rallies, but never of Friday's magnitude in the Kashmir's turbulent history.

                             

Such was the rush of the people that the public address system failed to perform immediately after the Friday prayers, as every one stood up and began moving closer to the stage, were all the senior separatist leaders were sitting.

 

The separatist leaders couldn't address the Friday's mammoth gathering, after the public address system failed, and the stage collapsed, as people swarmed closer to it.

 

However, in his brief address, Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq announced that an even larger rally would be taken to the city centre, Lal Chowk on Monday for a sit-in dharna, while complete shut down would be observed on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Separatist leaders including, Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah had to be supported out through the massive crowd shouting pro-freedom and pro-Islam slogans.

 

State authorities decided to allow the 'Eidgah challo march' called by the coordination committee of the two groups of separatist conglomerate, All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC).

 

As there was no extra deployment of police and paramilitary on the city roads or in any other towns of the valley, tens of thousands of people converged on the vast Eidgah grounds.

 

Police said one person was electrocuted and four others received serious burn injuries, when a vehicle overloaded with people marching to Eidgah crashed into a live high tension electric wire at Bejibehara in south Kashmir Anantnag district this morning.

 

The injured were taken to the local hospital in Bejibehara for treatment and two of the injured were referred by the attending doctors to Srinagar for specialized treatment.

 

This was the fourth march called by the separatists during the past 12 days, and the response has been increasingly incremental, apparent in today's march.

 

The authorities decided to allow the march, and the security forces had been ordered to 'exercise maximum restraint'.

 

The separatist leaders had also appealed to the marchers to maintain absolute peace during today's march, and not to resort to any provocative measures.

 

The Eidgah grounds were readied for today's rally by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

 

Also Read: Coverage: The Amarnath Issue

 





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