Hours ahead of the first Friday prayers after the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani last week, the Jammu and Kashmir government has clamped a curfew in the capital city of Srinagar as well in the wake of violent protests.
Authorities have decided to continue the restrictions on unlawful assembly in all the 10 districts of the Valley, as tension gripped the state last Friday after security forces shot down the 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander.
Authorities, fearing escalation of violence after the prayers, imposed curfew from 5 am. “Friday is crucial. We hope the day passes off peacefully,” said a senior officer, amid calls by separatists leaders to clerics to protest against the “brutalities of the men in uniform”.
Telecommunications continue to face increased problems in the Valley, as mobile networks of the private companies -- Aircel and Reliance -- were jammed. By 9.30pm on Thursday, the only telecom company whose services were functional was the government-run BSNL, which had suspended prepaid services earlier in the day.
The decision to suspend mobile services has been taken to prevent spreading of any misinformation, sources said.
The annual Amarnath Yatra has been suspended because of the law and order situation in the Valley, officials said.
“No yatri was allowed on Friday to move from Bhagawati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu city towards the valley,” a senior police official told IANS in Jammu.
Separatist hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, the Valley’s head cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s Yasin Malik have appealed to the Imams of mosques to lead the Namaz-e-Janaza funeral prayers in absentia for those who died in the unrest during the past one week.
In a statement, the leaders condemned the use of “brutal force against the protesters” and their authorities “compelling traders and transporters not to support the ongoing struggle”.
The death toll in the clashes since July 8 touched 37, as another young protester succumbed to his injuries. Irshad Ahmad Dar was admitted to hospital with a critical head injury that was identified as severe haemorrahge.
“He had very serious haemorrhage in his head and was fighting for his life since admission,” said a doctor who treated him.
Sources said Dar suffered wounds on being beaten up by the security forces.
More than 1,400 people have been hurt in the six day of violence in the Valley. A majority of them, with bullet and pellet injuries, are being treated in various hospitals.
Scores of people are also reported missing amid continuing instances of sporadic clashes between the army and demonstrators. Reports from Pulwama said a dead body was allegedly found outside the district hospital, and the slain youth was yet to be identified.
Meanwhile, the curfew continued in all ten districts of Kashmir. Sporadic incidents of clashes also occurred between security forces and protesters.
Senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig, MP, has questioned the legitimacy of the operation in which Wani was killed.
In a statement to local news agency, he had said the July 8 operation was against the ruling of the Supreme Court. The constitution bench of the apex court has given a judgement about the standard operation procedure on carrying out an operation even in places where AFSPA is in force, he told KNS.
“The spirit of that judgement seems to have been violated in Burhan’s killing. According to a claim of an Army General, the operation ended in just three-and-a-half minutes, apparently not giving the militants an option to surrender,” added the leader of the party which rules the border state.