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Authorities thwart separatists’ Lal Chowk march

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Srinagar, May 19: Government forces on Saturday sealed the city center Lal Chowk to thwart a protest march called by the separatists against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Valley.

Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik has called for ‘Lal Chowk Chalo’ and asked people to carry placards reading “what Kashmiri people want” to convey a message to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to the region.

However, police and paramilitary forces had placed barricades along all the roads, including lanes and by-lanes leading to Lal Chowk to thwart the proposed march.

Interestingly while common people seemed largely uninterested even in attempting to march towards the Lal Chowk, a group of JKLF activists, however, did try to march towards the city centre but the government forces didn’t allow them.

A JKLF spokesperson said its leaders and activists gathered near Budshah Chowk and tried to march towards Lal Chowk, but policemen already deployed there prevented them from marching ahead.

He said scores of activists and leaders were detained by the police on the occasion. They were shifted to Kothi Bagh police station, he said.

While JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has already been taking into preventive custody, his colleagues Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwiaz Umar Farooq were placed under house-arrest.

Mirwaiz today came out of his Nigeen residence and tried to march towards Lal Chowk, but a posse of policemen waiting outside his house, took him into preventive custody and shifted him to the Nigeen Police Station, his spokesperson said.

Mirwaiz had yesterday said the government should allow the people to assemble at Lal Chowk so that they can convey their ‘Mann ki Baat’ to the prime minister during his visit today.

“Mr Modi all have been listening to your ‘mann ki baat’ for years now. As you come here tomorrow, allow us Kashmiris to peacefully gather at Lal Chowk so that you hear our  ‘Mann ki baat’! It’s just three words– Resolve Kashmir Dispute,” Mirwiaz said in his address to Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid here.

Earlier today, police reached the Hyderpora residence of Geelani and Naseem Bagh residence of Mirwaiz and conveyed to them that they had been placed under house arrest as a “precautionary measure”, officials said.

“As the authoritarian rulers once again belie any claim to democracy by imposing #HouseArrests #Curfew #Restrictions #Barricades #Blockades closure of educational institutions on the visit of Indian PM to valley, I will peacefully march towards #LalChowk at 11 am,” Mirwiaz had tweeted this morning.

Independent legislator Shiekh Abdul Rasheed (Er Rasheed) was also detained today by the police in Srinagar while he was leading a protest rally against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the region.

Reports said Rasheed along with his supporters tried to take a protest rally from his Jawaharnagar residence, but policemen deployed there took him into custody and lodged him at Rajbagh police station.

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