After Budgam encounter, Kashmir shuts down to protest killing of 3 civilians
Extra forces were deployed in sensitive areas of Kashmir as the valley shut down in response to a strike called by separatists to protest the killing of civilians during a clash with security forcesUpdated: May 05, 2017 19:41 IST
A restive Kashmir shut down on Wednesday to protest the killing of three civilians by security forces during an encounter with militants in Budgam district, raising possibilities of another prolonged unrest in the militancy-hit valley.
The civilians were killed in the Chadoora area of central Kashmir after security forces opened fire on protesters who were allegedly pelting stones during an encounter between militants and army. A local militant was also killed in the encounter whom the stone-pelters were allegedly trying to help escape.
At least five civilians have been killed by security forces since March 10 when army chief General Bipin Rawat warned of “tough action” against people trying to disrupt operations by security forces. He said the such would face harsh action reserved for anti-nationals.
The latest killings have triggered outrage in the valley where relations between the state and the people are under immense strain following an extended period of unrest in the summer of 2016 after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani. There has been an increase in number of encounters between militants and security forces as well.
Officials said markets across the valley are deserted, shops closed and traffic is off the roads. Capital Srinagar – which saw extended street protests last year – was completely shut in response to call by separatists leaders. They have also called for more protests after Friday prayers.
Train services have also been suspended by the authorities.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said the Chadoora killings were the outcome of army chief’s threat.
“Enough is enough and we won’t tolerate these serial killings and it is better to face this mayhem once for all, come what may,” they said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Authorities have deployment a large number of police and CRPF personnel across the valley particularly in sensitive areas of Srinagar to prevent escalation of protests.
“There are no restrictions anywhere but we have deployed enough men on the roads. In Chadoora Budgam, the situation is under control. However the shops are closed,” a police official said.
Most of the education institutions are closed and the attendance in many government offices is thin. The University of Kashmir, Islamic University of Science and Technology and Central University of Kashmir have postponed all the examinations scheduled for Wednesday in view of the strike.