Kashmir curfew widens amid call for Friday protests

Security forces widened a curfew in Kashmir today as hardline separatists urged residents to march to the Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar.Hurriyat activist held|Podcast

delhi Updated: Jul 09, 2010 17:41 IST

Security forces widened a curfew in Kashmir on Friday as hardline separatists urged residents to march to the Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar.

"Whenever the curfew is relaxed in any of the areas, people are requested to come out on the streets and continue with a peaceful sit-in," a statement by hardliners said.

Curfew was clamped to contain violent protests over the killing of locals amid fresh attacks that injured two policemen, officials said.

"We have widened the curfew to ensure a violence-free Friday," a police officer, who declined to be named, told AFP.

People living under the strictly enforced curfew in Srinagar since Tuesday evening, have been facing hardships, especially those who are in urgent need of healthcare and medicines.

Police arrested Shabir Ahmed Wani, one of the two activists of hardline Hurriyat Conference, allegedly involved in a conspiracy to engineer violence in Kashmir Valley and get at least 10 to 15 people killed in a procession.

Wani was booked under various provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code and may be charged under the stringent Public Safety Act, under which he can be detained for two years, they said.

Involvement of hardline separatists in engineering some of the violence in the Kashmir Valley was indicated by the intercepted conversation between the two of them during which they discussed killing of at least 15 people in a procession near Srinagar on July 7.

Towns such as Kupwara and Handwara in the north, Kakpora and Pulwama in south and Gandherbal in the east were placed under fresh curfew. Violent flashpoints such as Sopore, Srinagar and Anantnag remain restricted.

In Sopore, suspected Lashker-e-Taiba militants launched three gun and grenade attacks on security forces on Friday that left a policeman and a paramilitary trooper injured, a police spokesman said.

Police and paramilitary forces, who have been struggling to control the wave of protests in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, have been accused of killing 15 civilians in less than a month.

Each death has sparked a new cycle of violence since the first killing of a 17-year old student by a police teargas shell during protests June 11 in Srinagar.

Two men and a woman were killed in Srinagar on Tuesday.

The army was called in on Wednesday in Srinagar after residents defied curfew restrictions and held protests. Their presence brought calm to the streets.

No local newspapers hit the stands for the second day running amid tight restrictions on the local and international media.

"Due to the curbs imposed by the government on media, Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Uzma could not bring out their print editions for second consecutive day, Friday," said the website of the two leading local newspapers.

The state's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, under pressure to contain the violence, held a meeting with top police and intelligence officials on Friday, a police source said.

Top leaders in the ruling Congress party also met in New Delhi to be briefed by Home Minister P Chidambaram, Press Trust of Indian news agency reported.

First Published: Jul 09, 2010 15:11 IST