Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Saturday asked people to continue protests against killings by the security forces, saying the issue was not “Hindu India versus Muslim Kashmir, as is being projected”.
Addressing a press conference, he said: “Protests are a fundamental right of people and (this path) cannot be denied to them … People will continue to lodge peaceful protests, and if the government uses force against them, it will be responsible for the consequences.”
The Mirwaiz called for “demilitarisation” of the state. “A media report suggested 700,000 troops had been deployed in the state. Military thinking (can’t) resolve the political dispute of Kashmir. There is no need to have such a huge presence of troops in the state,” said the Mirwaiz.
The APHC chairman reiterated his stand that “Kashmir is a political dispute”. He warned against linking the “indigenous genuine freedom agitation of the people with the Amarnath yatra”.
Criticising the mainstream political parties, he said: “If the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference want to be part of the APHC, they should say goodbye to assembly politics and join us.”
Four militants killed
The army on Saturday said four militants had been killed in an encounter in north Kashmir’s Nowgam sector.
A defence spokesman said a gunbattle between the army personnel and militants started when soldiers manning the border confronted a group of heavily-armed militants, who were trying to cross the line of control.
In the exchange of fire, which continued through the night, four militants were killed.