Srinagar, Sep 10, 2010: Violence flared up in the old city after Friday prayers today when government forces targeted a separatist procession with tear gas, while the southern township of Tral shut down after the police and the paramilitary personnel came down violently upon marchers, even as hectic Eid-eve activity was witnessed in Kashmir elsewhere.Street battles between protestors and marchers broke out near the Jamia Masjid in Nauhatta after the forces used tear gas shelling to disperse a march taken out following Friday prayers.
The police and the paramilitary forces had blocked the marchers when the latter tried to advance to the main square, and asked them to disperse, but resorted to heavy cane-charges, tear gas and aerial firing when the latter kept pressing on.
The marchers retaliated with furious stone-pelting, sparking of intense clashes which soon spread to adjoining areas and continued well into the afternoon.
The violence disrupted commercial activity and traffic in the usually busy area which had hosted a heavy rush of shoppers on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr.
But the street battles gradually petered out and calm was restored with shopkeepers resuming their business and motorists daring to ply on the rock-striven streets.
A large procession was also taken out in the Hyderpora area of upper Srinagar, where people marched demanding the release of the Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who resides in the locality.
The march, taken up to the by-pass, passed off without incident as the crowds broke up after holding a protest sit-in for some time.
The southern township of Tral went on a lightning strike after Friday prayers when the personnel of the CRPF went berserk among peaceful protestors.
Worshippers had come out in a procession from the town’s Jamia Masjid and headed for the bus stand chanting pro-freedom slogans, but a CRPF vehicle reportedly tried to ram into the marchers.
The locals said that people managed to save their lives somehow, but a posse of CRPF personnel fell upon the marchers with canes and batons, beating them up ruthlessly.
The townsfolk alleged that the paramilitary men even beat up, shopkeepers, ransacked their goods, and violently assaulted people in their homes.
The town shut down at the paramilitary rampage, and shopkeepers refused to raise their shutters even after the local police officers assured them of action against the CRPF personnel involved in the unprovoked attack.