Kashmir: Curfew stretches to 42nd day, ambulance driver latest casualty

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Aug 19, 2016 11:10 IST
Paramilitary soldiers walk back towards their base camp after a day-long curfew in Srinagar. (AP)

An ambulance driver was shot at in Srinagar’s Safa Kadal locality on Thursday night in the violence-torn Kashmir Valley where curfew has been in place for 42 days straight.

The driver, who was on his way to the SMHS hospital from Kangan, managed to drive the ambulance despite a bone fracture, said a doctor. He was allegedly hit by pellets fired by security forces while ferrying a patient to the hospital.

The casualty is the latest instance since protests broke out on July 8 when Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by security forces in an encounter. Considered a hero among many locals, Wani’s death sparked the violence that has since claimed 66 lives, enforced curfew in the Valley, and led to political friction.

Kashmiris have alleged atrocities by armed forces during protests, and the use of pellet guns by the government has been under scanner. Separatists have called for a boycott of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders.

On Wednesday night, protesters allegedly attacked the house of Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, a legislator from Shopian, and set ablaze his servant quarter. The PDP leader was not at home at the time.

This was the second such attack this month. On August 2, Jammu and Kashmir education minister Naeem Akhtar’s residence was attacked with petrol bombs. The minister, who lives in his official bungalow, was not present at the house.

Sources said protesters attacked Bhat’s house to protest the excessive use of force during night raids in Mimender area of Shopian. They pelted stones at Bhat’s house and attacked even the securitymen guarding it.

Meanwhile,separatists have extended their strike until August 25, and asked people to visit families of those killed in the unrest and prepare lists of such families.

Separatists have also asked people to post letters asking all MLAs, MLCs and ministers from “pro-Indian” political parties to resign from the government and party positions.

Residents from many areas have complained of night raids and arrests. Social media is abuzz with purported photographs of people beaten up by security forces in the last two days.

On Thursday, residents claimed that police stopped vehicles carrying essential supplies into Srinagar.

Authorities denied having issued any instructions to oil companies to stop distribution of fuel to the dealers. Officials said oil companies, including Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil, have temporarily suspended the supply because of Raksha Bandhan.

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