A protester was killed and about 30 people were injured on Wednesday in clashes with security forces in Ratnipora of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district as Union home minister Rajnath Singh started his two-day visit to the strife-torn valley to step up Centre’s efforts to end the cycle of violence.
Amir Ahmad Mir, 20, was a resident of Ratnipora. His death was confirmed by medical superintendent of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital or SMHS, Dr Nazir Chaudhary. “The youth was bought dead to the hospital,” Chaudhary told Hindustan Times.
Clashes erupted in Pulwama’s Prichoo neighbourhood at around 4 am after government forces tried to block an independence rally.
In Srinagar, clashes were reported in the Waniyar Safakadal neigbourhood where two motorcyclists were allegedly beaten up by security personnel. Funeral prayers for Mir were observed outside the hospital amid slogans against India. His death now puts the toll at 68 in the violent clashes triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in a gunfight with security forces on July 8. Thousands have also been injured.
The valley remained shut for the 47th straight day with curfew and restrictions imposed in various areas in Kashmir and the separatist leadership’s call for a shutdown.
Singh will meet delegations from Kashmir’s civil society and is also expected to review the state’s security arrangement with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and governor NN Vohra, before returning to Delhi on Thursday.
This is Singh’s second visit in a month to strife-torn Kashmir that has been on the boil following Wani’s death.
“During Rajnath’s last visit, people said once calm returns to the valley, the minister will forget about listening to voices from Kashmir. But the minister promised he will keep coming back to the valley to hear what the Kashmiris want to say. Therefore he is going back there again,” a home ministry official said.
Singh will meet civil society members at Srinagar’s Nehru Guest House but no meetings with separatist leaders have been scheduled.