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Two more deaths push Kashmir to the edge again

india Updated: Aug 03, 2016 21:08 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Violence in Kashmir

Securitymen patrol a street during curfew in Srinagar on Tuesday. (PTI)

Protests erupted in Srinagar and south Kashmir on Wednesday following the death of two young men – one in Srinagar and the other in Pulwama - on Tuesday night.

People came out on roads in Chattabal area of Sirnagar’s old city after Reyaz Ahmad Shah, a bank ATM guard was found dead under mysterious circumstances near Shri Maharja Hari Singh Hospital.

Protesters alleged that the guard was shot dead by security forces.

A CRPF official refuted the allegations: “We had no deployment in the area. And the CRPF camp, which they are talking about, is 200 yards away from the spot of his death and in opposite direction.”

Kashmir inspector general of police, SJM Gilani said a murder case was registered in the incident.

Read: Protests in Pakistan ahead of Rajnath’s arrival for Saarc meeting

The death comes after a day of some improvement in the situation in Srinagar that saw the movement of movement of pedestrians and private vehicles on the roads on Tuesday.

In south Kashmir, the situation was extremely tense after a civilian was shot dead on Tuesday night by the personal security officer of an additional deputy commissioner (ADC) on the National Highway in Pulwama.

Farooq Ahmad was killed when the PSO of Ramban ADC Babu Ram opened fire on a group of people who tried to stop their car in Lethpora area.

Thousands of people participated in Farooq’s funeral on Wednesday. Immediately after the funeral, groups of youths started pelting stones on security forces, who retaliated by firing tear gas shells.

As many as 134 persons were injured in clashes in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

In capital Srinagar, thousands of people defied curfew and restrictions to participate in the funeral of Reyaz Ahmad Shah, a bank ATM guard of old city who was found dead under mysterious circumstances near Shri Maharja Hari Singh Hospital on Tuesday night.

The two casualties have taken the death toll in the ongoing unrest in Kashmir to 53.

A police spokesperson said that 15 incidents of stone pelting were reported across the Valley, and “12 persons and 40 police and security force personnel were injured”.

“In its continuous drive against the hooligans and miscreants, 349 accused persons have been arrested in the valley. Besides, 122 have been detained under prohibitory provisions of law,” said the spokesperson.

Opposition National Conference blamed the state government for the escalation of the situation and criticised chief minister Mehbooba Mufti for making “provocative” statements.

“The government has failed to control the situation. Instead of reaching out to the people, the government has imposed curfew, crackdown, and arrests of youth. All these methods are flaring up the situation,” senior NC leader Ali Mohmmad Sagar told a news agency. “Instead of trying to restore normalcy, the chief minister is giving provocative statements.”

Kashmir has been on boil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and two other militants in an encounter on July 8 in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area.

Read: Pak parliament unanimously passes resolution on Kashmir

The incident triggered widespread protests across the Valley, leading to a curfew and restrictions in the state which was again enforced in many parts of Kashmir valley on Wednesday as well.

Other than the 53 deaths, thousands have been injured, most of them by pellet guns used by security forces to break up protests.

In Burhan Wani’s home town of Tral, people hired a water tanker on Wednesday to wash the road and offer day prayers following a call by the separatists.

Separatists including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have issued a five-day protest calendar till August 5 asking people to indulge in different forms of protests including shutdown, offering prayers on roads, painting pro-freedom graffiti and observing blackouts in the evening.