To protest the killing of a youth by army three days ago, Kashmir remained shut on Saturday even as union defence minister AK Antony arrived in Srinagar to review the security situation of the border state.
Life remained out-of-gear in summer capital Srinagar and other major towns of the valley on the call of hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to protest against the alleged cold blooded murder of Hilal Ahmad Dar(20) by army soldiers in northern district of Bandipora on Tuesday night.
While Army has claimed that the youth "walked into an ambush laid for militants and opened fire when challenged", locals and family refused the claim saying Dar was a 'civilian killed for rewards'.
As shops, businesses and colleges remained closed, traffic movement was partially affected. However, attendance in government offices and banks was dismal. A large contingent of police and paramilitaries in riot gear were seen lining streets of old parts of the city.
In Bandipora, life remained disrupted for the fourth day, since Dar was killed by soldiers at Ashtengoo Naar, with people demanding that 'responsible soldiers be brought to book'. While police maintain the killing was a case of mistaken identity, the authorities have ordered a magisterial probe to verify all the claims.
Defence minister, AK Antony, who arrived in the valley on Saturday along with chief of army staff general Bikram Singh, has already ordered probe into the incident overruling the local army commanders. But separatists have 'mocked' over the probe orders.
"We reject the probes ordered by state government and army because they have never been able to prove their credibility in the valley. Inquiries are ordered to pacify the anger of people and then discarded into cold storage. We will only accept a probe by an International agency," Geelani, who was put under house arrest, said in a statement.
"Today's strike should be an eye opener for Indian defence minister that despite the presence of 700,000 lakh troops in the state, they were not able to kill our sentiment for freedom," the 83-year-old leader said.
During the two day visit, which comes after a gap of 18 months, Antony will be interacting with the state chief minister Omar Abdullah, besides chairing a Unified Headquarters meeting to review the security situation in the Valley.
The defence minister is also expected to discuss the issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state with top commanders. After the Bandipora killing, the calls for revocation of AFSPA in Kashmir have gone shriller.
"AFSPA is like a naked sword hanging over the heads of people in Kashmir which has given troops a license to kill Kashmiris. It is actually an offshoot of the actual Kashmir problem which is forced Indian occupation of the state," Geelani said.
All other separatist leaders including Shabir Ahmad Shah, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik were restricted to their homes by police.