Four persons were killed and over 60 injured in firing by security forces on Monday as protesters tried to defy one of the most stringent curfews ever clamped in the Kashmir valley.
The curfew, imposed from Sunday morning across all 10 districts of the Valley, did however, manage to successfully thwart the march to Srinagar’s city centre, Lal Chowk, the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference had planned. <b1>
Srinagar was turned into a fortress. The surrounding districts were handed over to the army and all roads blocked. Around 50 Hurriyat leaders were arrested, including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, as well as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik.
Not even the press was spared with several photographers being beaten up by security forces. Fifteen photographers and reporters had been assaulted on Sunday.
All the local TV news channels were barred from broadcasting news or current affairs programmes. The channels in protest shut down altogether. Newspapers too chose not to come out on Monday, as it would have been impossible to distribute them.
“Even editors are not being issued curfew passes,” said Jeelani Qadri, editor of the Urdu daily Afaq. “We can’t reach office. Nor are the passes that were issued earlier to reporters being honoured.”
One person was killed at Narbal in Budgam district, two others at Pulwama in South Kashmir, while a woman was killed at Handwara.
“We have seen worse days in the 1990s and longer curfews”, said Abdul Rahman Bhat, a retired teacher. “But even at the worst of times, earlier restrictions were limited to specific areas. Even if entire Srinagar was under curfew — which too was rare — at least villages around were spared. This is the first time we’ve blanket curfew across the Valley.”