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Curfew-like situation in Kashmir to foil separatists' march
November 17, 2008 13:07 IST
A curfew-like situation prevailed in Kashmir as authorities deployed thousands of security personnel to scuttle any attempt by separatists, to march to Bandipora to disrupt the first phase of assembly elections, which began in ten constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir [Images] on Monday.
Heavy deployment has been made in Srinagar [Images] and other major towns of the valley in view of a call -- 'Jehan election waha chalo' (Let's march to wherever elections are being held) -- given by the Separatist Co-ordination Committee, which is spearheading the ongoing movement for right to self-determination, official sources said.
Polling started in the three constituencies of Bandipora district, along with seven other constituencies of Poonch district and Ladakh region, today.
The police and paramilitary personnel were seen driving back people to their homes and patrolling the deserted streets to foil any attempt by separatists to assemble here for the long march.
The separatists have rejected the elections and called for protests on the election days, besides a complete strike to draw the attention of the global community towards the Kashmir issue.
In view of strict restrictions imposed by the security forces and a general strike called by the separatists, all shops and business establishments, government offices, educational institutions, banks, courts and other semi-government institutions remained shut.
All modes of transport remained off the roads here and in other parts of the valley, although transport was exempted from the purview of the strike, sources said. The residents complained that security personnel were not allowing them to come out of their houses as curfew has been imposed.
However, a police spokesman denied imposition of the curfew but said security forces have been given strict orders not to allow movement of four or more people together.
There has been no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley so far, he said, adding that the situation is well under control.
The coordination committee, which met in Srinagar on Sunday, appealed to the people to stay away from the election process in view of the 'crucial juncture of the freedom movement'.
It also appealed people to march towards the headquarters of the districts to 'sabotage the elections'.
"People from other districts should head towards polling areas in buses, trucks and motorcycles to sabotage the elections," the coordination committee had said.
In view of the threat, Bandipora district of North Kashmir was virtually sealed to foil any attempt by people from other districts to reach there.
"All roads leading to Bandipora have been sealed with barbed and razor wires and barricades," the sources said.
Several top separatist leaders, including chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, have been placed under house arrest since Wednesday.
Senior Hurriyat leader Zaffar Akbar Bhat was arrested by the authorities from his office at Chanapora on the outskirts of the city on Sunday.
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