Traders strike affects life in Srinagar

Srinagar, Dec 5 (IANS) Normal life was partially affected here on Saturday due to a shutdown called by traders to protest the alleged ransacking of shops in the old city by security forces while dispersing stone-pelting youths on Friday.

Shops and other commercial establishments remained closed in the old city as a mark of protest after traders alleged police fired tear smoke shells and pepper gas indiscriminately after Friday prayers culminated in the central Jamia Masjid area.

However, public transport was seen plying normally on Srinagar roads and shops were shut partially in uptown and civil lines areas of capital Srinagar. Banks, schools, government offices also functioned normally.

Downtown Traders Coordination Committee had called for the shutdown which was supported by Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation.

“Security forces deliberately harass shopkeepers on one pretext or other after every weekly Friday congregational prayers around Jamia Masjid. Yesterday (Friday), police also damaged goods in our shops”, said Javid Ahmad Zargar, president of the Traders Committee.

A police spokesman, however, refuted the allegations and said: “Stone pelters usually pelt stones on both police and shopkeepers. Miscreants and not peace loving shopkeepers are our target.”

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who delivers the weekly Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid, condemned the police action and said it is an attempt to scare away devotees from coming to the central mosque.

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