Normal life was affected in Kashmir on Monday due to a shutdown called by the valley’s separatist leadership to protest the killing of two civilians in an encounter on Sunday in south Kulgam district.
Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had called for a complete shutdown on Monday and a “Kulgam Chalo” march on Wednesday against the killings.
The killing of the two civilians – one caught in the crossfire during the encounter and the other when forces fired to quell protests in the area – has raised apprehensions of deterioration of the ground situation in Kashmir.
Two soldiers and four militants were also killed in the encounter.
Major markets in Srinagar remained closed and streets were deserted. Reports said that restrictions were imposed in some parts of south Kashmir on Monday morning. However, curfew has not been enforced by the administration in any part.
“Mousam theek hua nahi ki halaat kharab ho gaye (The weather has just begun to improve and the situation is already bad),” said a businessman from Srinagar as he looked at the closed shop shutters on the main road.
Kashmir has just limped back to normalcy after months of shutdown and curfew last year over the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani and the financial loss to various sectors of the economy have been estimated at hundreds of crores.
There were strong rumours on WhatsApp groups about internet services being snapped in the valley in view of the law and order situation. However, authorities soon clarified that no such steps have been taken.
The Hurriyat statement had said that it was “use of brute force against civilians in Frisal Kulgam” and termed it “as worst kind of state terrorism”.
The opposition National Conference (NC) demanded an “impartial and time-bound probe into the killing” while the High Court Bar Association has also condemned “the brutal act of firing on the unarmed civilians” and supported the strike call by separatists.
Police, in a press statement, that investigation has been started in the case of the civilian killed during the protest.
Government spokesperson and education minister Naeem Akhtar regretted the loss of lives.
“We will look into the matter and will try to find out all the circumstances that led to such a damage at the place,” he told a local news agency.