With the popular rage against the anti-Islam film produced and telecast in the United States intensifying by the day, Kashmir valley and several parts of Jammu and Ladakh regions Friday witnessed widespread demonstrations marked by clashes between protesters and police in which scores of people were injured.
In absence of any strike call, the valley observed a complete spontaneous shutdown with all shops and business establishments, offices, courts, banks and educational institutions being closed for the day. All public and private transport services were off the roads and life all over the valley came to a standstill.
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Mufti Azam Muhammad Bashir-ud-din, had called for peaceful post-Friday-prayer protests against the anti-Islam blasphemous video produced by an American Israeli. Geelani had also called for a 2-minute abstention from work at 11 a.m.
Fearing trouble, the government had closed all schools and colleges and also imposed stringent restrictions on movement of people in the city and elsewhere in most towns.
An undeclared curfew was clamped in half a dozen police station areas of downtown Srinagar while section 144 of CrPC was strictly enforced elsewhere to foil repeated attempts by angry youth to take out protest rallies.
In a precipitate, though avoidable, move, authorities locked the historic Jamia Masjid and several other mosques and Imambaras to prevent devotees from offering congregational Friday prayers.
Several separatist leaders, including Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani; Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief, Muhammad Yasin Malik; Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief, Syeda Asiya Andrabi, and scores of their supporters were detained while Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Zafar Akbar Bhat, Masroor Abbas, and several other leaders were put under house arrest.
A large posse of police and paramilitary personnel had been deployed in sensitive areas of the city and elsewhere in the Valley to maintain law and order, official sources said.
Police swung into action soon after dozens of burqa-clad Dukhtaran-e-Millat activists appeared at Babademb Munawarabad here and tried to march towards Lal Chowk in defiance of prohibitory orders, official sources said.
Police fired several tear-smoke shells and used batons to chase away the protestors who chanted anti-US slogans. Several women activists were injured in the clashes. The women activists took shelter in nearby houses and later five of them including their leader Syeda Asiya Indrabi were taken into preventive custody and shifted to a local police station, sources said.
Eyewitnesses said agitated youth fought pitched battles with police and paramilitary CRPF in several city localities, including Maisuma, Bemina, Hyderpora, Tengpora, Batmaloo, Sonwar, Ishbar Nishat, Khanyar and several other places. Similar reports came from most towns across the valley, including Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara, Handwara, Trehgam, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Budgam, Ganderbal, Khonmoh, Kangan, Saloora, Chadoora, Awantipora, Tral and Bandipore.
A massive demonstration was held in Budgam town after Friday prayers. The demonstration led by senior Hurriyat leader Agha Syed Hassan al-Mosavi passed through main town before culminating at the town square.
Protest demonstrations were also held at Beeru in the Budgam district under the banner of Mazhar-ul-Haq. The protest rally was led by Mirwaiz central Kashmir and Friday prayer leader Maulana Syed Abdul Lateef Bukhari. The protestors condemned the anti-Islam film and burned the flags of America and Israel.
Speaking on the occasion, Mirwaiz Bukhari demanded that access to this film should be blocked worldwide and the footage should be removed from the internet.
He also appealed to the US government to arrest the American producer of the film for hurting the sentiments of the Muslim world.
Reports said protests against the blasphemous film were also staged in several areas of Jammu and Ladakh regions, including Bhadarwah, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri, and Kargil. Several detainees lodged in Udhampur jail in Jammu were subjected to brute force when they staged a protest against the film.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said barring a few incidents of minor stone pelting, the situation across Kashmir remained peaceful.
"A few stone pelting incidents were reported from Srinagar, Pulwama, Baramulla and Shopian," he said, adding none was hurt in the clashes.
He said peaceful marches were taken out at many places across the Kashmir valley against the blasphemous movie clips.