Kashmir stands still for second day over militant, civilian deaths
Life remained at a standstill in Kashmir on Monday, a day after 10 people – five militants and an equal number of civilians – were killed in the southern district of Shopian.
Although the civil secretariat opened in the state’s summer capital of Srinagar, its roads and markets wore a deserted look following a strike call issued by separatists. Commercial establishments remained closed, and the government shut educational establishments to prevent students from flooding the streets in protest. The authorities also imposed restrictions in half of the city, and put up barricades as well as concertina wires in view of a protest march called by separatists.
The Valley was shut down on Sunday as well to protest the death of a youngster under a police vehicle in Noorbagh the previous day. Mobile Internet services have been suspended since Saturday.
A Hizbul Mujahideen commander and an assistant professor of Kashmir University were among the five militants killed in a gunfight with security forces in Shopian early on Sunday. The academic, Mohammad Rafi Bhat, had reportedly gone missing from his home on Friday and joined militant ranks.
The five civilians had succumbed to bullet injuries in clashes with security forces.
A police officer said restrictions have been imposed in the jurisdictions of seven police stations – Khanyar, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, Maharajgunj, Rainawari, Maisuma and Kralkhud – besides Pulwama and Shopian towns in south Kashmir. “The situation has been under control so far,” he added.
While separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani continues to be under house arrest, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik is in detention. Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar was also taken into custody after he violated his house detention and tried marching towards the secretariat, a spokesperson said.
Scores of National Conference workers held a protest march in Srinagar to condemn the “rising bloodshed” across the Valley. “People are dying, sometimes 20 at a time. This government is sustaining (itself) on military options. They are not winning people by political options. The dialogue process is yet to be initiated. We are protesting against all this. Raids, arrests and crackdowns are conducted at night across south, north and central Kashmir under Operation All Out. A teenager was crushed under a police vehicle. This is the limit,” said Ali Mohammad Sagar, senior National Conference leader and former law minister.
The authorities foiled an attempt by traders to picket the Secretariat during the course of the day, and suspended railway services between south and north Kashmir. Kashmir University suspended classes for Monday and Tuesday, and postponed the upcoming examinations as well.
As many as 41 people – including militants, civilians and security personnel – were killed in various instances of violence across Kashmir in April. Eighteen have died so far this month.