Additional security forces were rushed to the Kashmir Valley a day before Burhan Wani’s first death anniversary.
Srinagar: A day before the first death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, additional security forces were deployed in the Kashmir Valley and parts of the Jammu region to quell possible protests. Internet services were also curbed.
Troopers from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) along with Jammu and Kashmir police and columns of the Army and the Border Security Force (BSF) were asked to enforce the security lockdown from Friday morning, sources said.
Restrictions on the movement of separatist leaders are also likely as an alliance of key separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik gave a call to mark Wani’s death anniversary.
The Hizb chief, Muhammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, had, a day before being declared a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the US, issued a statement in Muzaffarabad calling for shutdowns in the Valley on July 8 and July 13.
July 13 is observed as ‘martyrs’ day’ in both parts of divided Jammu and Kashmir as on this day 66 years ago as many as 22 Kashmiris were shot dead by the troops of autocratic Dogra Maharaja outside Srinagar’s central prison where an in-camera trial of a rebel Abdul Qadeer was held.
Earlier, an attempt to organise a “Burhan Wani Day” rally in Birmingham City in the UK was also foiled after the Indian government forced the withdrawal of permission for the event.
Wani, a 22-year-old Internet-savvy poster boy of the Hizb, was killed by the security forces in Anantnag district on July 8, 2016, sparking disturbances in Kashmir and parts of Jammu’s Chenab valley leaving more than 80 people dead. Two policemen were also killed and thousands of security personnel injured during the five-month-long unrest.
In view of a possible flare up, the authorities in the Valley announced a 10-day-long “summer break” in educational institutions from July 6 although the summer is still away and the temperatures have not soared as yet. Apparently, the closure of schools and colleges has more to do with Wani anniversary than anything else.
On Thursday, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) Munir Ahmad Khan asked the lease-line Internet service providers to block all social media sites or shut down their services in the Valley from 10 pm till further orders.
“In view of the apprehensions of misuse of internet services by anti-national elements, which is likely to cause deterioration in law and order situation, you are directed to block all social media sites,” the order signed by him reads.
It adds that if blocking of the social media sites is not possible, the service providers should shut down their services. The authorities are also likely to suspend mobile Internet services across the Valley.
A similar blanket ban on 22 social media sites including Facebook, Twitter.com and WhatsApp announced in April for a period of one month had failed as a majority of the users began accessing these platforms through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).