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Army stages flag march in troubled Srinagar

July 07, 2010 11:40 IST

Army staged a flag march in SrinagarĀ on Wednesday even as an indefinite curfew shut the Jammu and Kashmir capitalĀ and other towns.

Army columns were deployed in the entire city, which saw widespread violence in Batmaloo and Maisuma locality resulting in the death of three people on Tuesday.

Curfew was in force in Anantnag, Pampore, Pulwama and Kulgam in South Kashmir and Kupwara and Bandipore in North Kashmir. Restrictions were in force at Sopore and Baramulla where Army also staged a flag march.

The army was called out on the streets of Srinagar late Tuesday night to enforce the curfew keeping in view the non-availability of adequate number of police personnel, many of whom have been deployed for Amarnath Yatra and counter-insurgency operations, official sources said.

State Chief Secretary S S Kapoor had sought the Army's assistance in maintaining law and order.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had appealed to the people to maintain calm and not to violate curfew restrictions.

State authorities have cancelled the curfew passes issued earlier. Loudspeaker-fitted police jeeps are making announcements asking people to stay indoors as an indefinite curfew has been imposed in the city.

Protesters had on Tuesday clashed with security forces in various places, including Khanyar, Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal, Barzulla, Fateh Kadal, Braripora, Tatoo Ground, Hyderpora, Baghat, Rambagh, Jehangir Chowk, Maisuma, and Habbakadal, leaving many people injured.

The protests had begun on Monday night when a group of men started throwing stones at a security contingent.

On the deployment of the army in Srinagar, state minister and Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin said, "We requested the army to help us in maintaining peace. Peace is our first priority. Army never takes over. They will be the supportive force we need for keeping peace."

"The district administration thinks that the army is needed to keep calm in the valley. The anger is there," he said.

State Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar asked the people to respect the curfew restrictions. "We will strictly implement the curfew restrictions. Government will try its best to restore normalcy. We are trying our best to normalise the situation," he said.

Referring to stone-pelting protestors, he said, "Some elements, some agencies were getting the youths on the roads for implementing their political agenda. So we are trying our best to control the situation. It is just the question of saving the people from this situation."

Photograph: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
Additional Reportage: PTI

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar