ARIF SHAFI WANI | Greater Kashmir
Srinagar, Aug 15: It seemed all roads of the City Friday led to Lal Chowk where thousands of people hoisted green flags on the historic Clock Tower forcing the otherwise trigger-happy paramilitary CRPF troopers and policemen to flee from the spot.
It was a complete reversal of roles at the Clock Tower as in the morning senior CRPF officers had hoisted Tricolor there, recited National anthem and distributed sweets among troopers to mark the Independence Day.
Hours later thousands of youth from various parts of the city assembled near the Clock Tower, shouted anti-CRPF and pro-freedom slogans and hoisted green flags on it. The CRPF troopers on duty nervously looked on.
As more people kept pouring on the spot, the CRPF troopers fearing trouble took positions behind their armored vehicle. Sensing the aggressive mood of the protesters, the CRPF troopers later ran away from the spot.
In the meantime, the senior superintendent of police, Srinagar, Syed Afadul Mujtaba, reached the spot with large number of policemen. As the cops, laced with batons and tear smoke guns, led by the SSP gradually walked towards the protesters, they abruptly stopped after hundreds more joined the protests.
Emotions ran high when the angry protesters started to move towards the cops. However, some elders among the protesters formed a human chain to prevent clashes with the police. To prevent the situation from escalation, the SSP ordered his men to move away from the spot. Before dispersing, some cops and CRPF troopers took pictures of the procession.
When the procession gradually dispersed through Budshah Chowk, a group of youth formed a ring, huddled and shouted pro-freedom and anti-CRPF slogans.
“The Indian troops have been hoisting Indian flags on the clock tower on January 26 and August 15. Unfurling green flags on the tower is our symbolic way to register our protests against illegal occupation of Kashmir,” they said.
The CRPF troopers residing in a nearby building peeped through the windows as the procession dispersed. After an hour, the CRPF troopers appeared near the tower. As deafening sounds of tear smoke shells from the nearby Habba Kadal area rattled the air, the CRPF troopers watched the green flags being waved by the strong evening breeze.