Shutdown in Kashmir, tension simmers after death of fifth civilian

  • Agencies, Srinagar
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2016 19:07 IST
Activists from the Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM) take part in a protest in Srinagar over the Handwara incident. (AFP)

Curfew-like restrictions will continue in parts of Srinagar city and north and south Kashmir areas as fresh tension gripped the Valley on Saturday a day after the death of a 19-year-old student in a firing by security forces, officials said.

The death of a fifth civilian this week has sparked fresh anger amid violent protests over four similar deaths since Tuesday in Kashmir Valley.

Arif Hussain Dar was killed and four others were injured allegedly in a firing by soldiers as angry residents clashed with security forces and tried to storm a Rashtriya Rifles camp in Natnusa village on the national highway after Friday prayers.

Authorities said 60 people, including 40 security men, were injured in clashes in north Kashmir. Violence also spread to other areas of the Valley, including Baramulla town and other parts of central and north Kashmir.

Read: Fresh protests after 5th Kashmiri dies in weeklong clashes with army

“To maintain law and order, restrictions will continue in areas falling under Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, MR Gunj, Safa Kadal, Kralkhud and Maisuma police stations in Srinagar,” Srinagar’s district magistrate Farooq Ahmad Lone said.

Similar restrictions have been imposed in Baramulla town in the north and Pulwama town in the south.

Authorities have also decided to continue the suspension of mobile internet services in the Valley on Saturday.

“Mobile internet services have been suspended to prevent the spread of rumours by anti-social elements,” a senior police officer said.

Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik and others, have called for a Valley-wide protest shutdown on Saturday against the killing of the teenager in army firing.

The board of school education and the University of Kashmir have postponed all exams scheduled for Saturday.

Train services between north Kashmir’s Baramulla town and Banihal town in the Jammu region have also remained suspended since Wednesday.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who expressed anguish over the death of the teenager, is likely to visit Kupwara district later in the day.

The incident is being seen as an embarrassment for Mufti, who has directed security agencies to not harm civilians during protests.

Read: Handwara minor in ‘protective’ police custody, activists protest

‘Governor must keep a watch’

The Congress termed the conditions in the state as volatile and said the there should be “caution and circumspection”.

“Ever since PDP-BJP government has taken over, incidents are taking place which clearly demonstrate that the government is not in control of the situation. As Jammu and Kashmir is a frontline border state, it is imperative that the governor keeps a close watch on the situation,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters on Friday.

“Since it is beginning of the summer and already the way situation turns out to be, it seems to be at least volatile if not anarchic. Keeping in view the totality of situation, we would like to stress and urge that there should be caution and circumspection and a very close watch on the situation be kept,” he added.

Violence erupted on Tuesday in Handwara – 85 kilometres from Srinagar – when police fired on a mob that had gathered following allegations that an army personnel had molested a local girl.

The army has since then released a video of the girl where she allegedly denies the molestation charge.

Authorities clamped a curfew in the region and suspended mobile internet services but struggled to contain protests over the death of Mohammad Iqbal, Nayeem Qadir, Raja Begum, and Jehangir Ahmad Wani.

The state government is under pressure after social media erupted in condemnation of the spate of killings and questioned the way security agencies were dealing with crowds.

Read: J-K: Girl says soldier didn’t molest her as tension stalks Handwara

Read: Two men killed after soldiers fire at protesters in Kashmir’s Handwara

(With IANS inputs)

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