Already volatile, the situation in Kashmir seems heading from bad to worse with street protests spreading fast from Srinagar city, major towns to far-off rural pockets.
Fearing trouble after the killing of a 25-year-old student in north Kashmir in alleged army firing on Tuesday, the authorities imposed strict curfew in at least eight police stations in Srinagar city and three major towns in north and south Kashmir on Wednesday . The mobile internet services were blocked by the administration.
However, for the first time, residents in parts of the old city like Nowhatta, Safa Kadal attempted to break the curfew restriction. Residents accused the security forces of atrocities and damage to property.
“Vehicles parked outside were damaged by security forces. Window panes were smashed with stones. We had no option but to take over Jamia Majid’s (main mosque in the city) public address system to ask people to defy curfew,” said a Nowhatta resident on the condition of anonymity.
Despite curfew restrictions, there were clashes between stone-throwing youth and security forces. Several office-goers of the emergency services like local hospital alleged the security forces did not honour their curfew passes.
There were low-intensity stone throwing incidents in areas of uptown, where there was no curfew. “There were stone pelting at nine places in Srinagar,” said a police spokesman.
In north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, clashes left 15 people, including police personnel, injured after clashes occurred at Trehgam village. In south Kashmir’s Shopian district, protests left civilians and security forces injured.
Officials put the number of injured since the killing of a protester yesterday to more than 50.
According to the police, nine people, including 15 security personnel, were injured in north Kashmir Sopore area. "A protester, Muntazir Ahmad, a resident of Delina, received superficial injury on neck. He is out of danger," said spokesman. Muntazir Ahmad is a wanted stone pelter who has been booked previously under a couple of FIRs, he said.
Since the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on February 9, there has been a strong sense of resentment among separatist supporters. Curfew and shutdown is infusing as a sense of frustration among people, particularly youth.
“Kashmir’s treacherous mountains are contiguous with Pakistan and then over to Afghanistan. We have thousands of ways to continue our resistance in any shape,” warned Azam Inquilabi, who was among first separatist to pick up arms in 1990s, and heads the Mahaz-e-Azadi now.
Meanwhile, curfew and protests have brought life to a grinding halt. The state varsity and Public Service Commission have postponed upcoming exams in the Valley.