Kashmir shuts against yatra

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Srinagar: A shutdown called by separatists and civil society activists against the announcement of a pilgrimage by the Kashmiri Pandits and the consequent official restrictions marred normal life here Saturday.
Shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads in Srinagar and its outskirts due to strike.
Work in government offices and banks was affected as majority employees could not make it to their offices due to restrictions and lack of transport service as State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses also remained off the roads.
Very less number of private vehicles could be seen plying in restriction free areas as compared to previous strikes. However, three wheelers had yet another field day on Saturday, charging extra from passengers in the absence of public transport.
Strike however, provided much needed relief to traffic police officials who were on their toes to heavy regulate traffic due to Eid.
Educational institutions, which were to reopen after summer vacation on Friday, remained closed as government extended the vacation for two days after separatists call for protests after Friday prayers and strike today.
Business and other activities remained paralysed in this and other north Kashmir towns and tehsil headquarters, a report from Baramulla said.
Shops and business establishments remained closed, traffic off the roads and work in government offices and bank affected.
Though there are no restrictions, but additional security forces and state police personnel had been deployed in the town, particularly on bridges connecting old town with civil lines in Baramulla. However, some private vehicles could be seen plying in the civil line and old town.
Additional security forces had been deployed in apple township of Sopore to prevent any law and order problem. However, there were no restriction, official sources said.
Reports of shut down were received from other parts of the valley, including central Kashmir districts of Badgam and Ganderbal.
In the restriction free areas in south Kashmir, business and other activities were affected and transport was off the roads.Authorities imposed restrictions in Khanyar, Nowhatta, Rainawari, M.R. Gunj and Safa Kadal areas here and security personnel were deployed in Srinagar City, Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag and other towns.
“The restrictions in these areas have been imposed to prevent anti-social elements from disturbing peace,” a police official said here.
Senior separatist leader Geelani had called for the protest shutdown in the Valley Saturday against the Kausarnag Yatra announced by some Kashmiri Pandits who say the yatra is a pilgrimage undertaken by their ancestors since time immemorial.
They also say the Kausarnag Yatra was stopped after the outbreak of separatist violence in the Valley in early 1990s.
Authorities placed senior leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah, under house arrest in Srinagar.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive detention by the police Friday.

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