While most parts of the Valley remained shut on Friday, at places slogan shouting crowds took to the streets to denounce killings.
Srinagar: Normal life was disrupted across Kashmir Valley on Friday due to a strike called by separatists to mourn and protest the killing of eleven persons, including six militants in firefights, and other incidents of violence a day ago.
Meanwhile, curfew continued to be in force in Bhaderwah town of Jammu region where tensions run high in the aftermath of the killing of a local drover by alleged cow-vigilantes.
While issuing the call for shutdown, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), the alliance of key separatist leaders, had said, “There’s no let up in killings in Kashmir, even during the holy month of Ramzan.”
Kashmir’s chief Musl-im cleric and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is also on the JRL, told this newspaper, “The Indian forces have unleashed a reign of terror in the Valley in the backdrop of Prime Minister Naren-dra Modi’s antagonistic statements on Kashmir. Even in the holy month of Ramzan, there is no let-up in killings and bloodshed as civilians, armed youth or even Indian forces are getting killed.”
The police said that among the six militants killed in separate encounters in the Valley’s southern Shopian and Pulwama districts on Thursday was Khalid Bhai, a Pakistani national and a top commander of the outlawed Jaish-e-Muhammad outfit. Two Army soldiers and a civilian were also killed in these clashes. Four more persons died in incidents of violence elsewhere in the restive state on Thursday.
However, the family of one of the three youth slain during the firefight in Shopian’s Hendew village has refuted the police claim that he was a militant. They and other locals said that after the families of the three were called by the police for identification of their bodies, it was confirmed that out of the three, only two were militants and the third slain person was civilian Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat. The police said it is verifying the family’s claim, but said that the encounter took place in an open space and it is inconceivable that a person with no links with militants would choose to be around in such a situation.
While most parts of the Valley remained shut on Friday, at places slogan shouting crowds took to the streets to denounce killings. The security forces restricted the movement of people at a few places including in central Srinagar “to prevent breach of peace”. The authorities also locked Srinagar’s Grand Mosque to disallow people to hold Friday congregation at the historic place of worship. Earlier they had announced closure of all educational institutions in the Valley and also the suspension of train services “as a precautionary measure.”
A report from Jammu said that while curfew continued to be in force in Bhaderwah town for the second consecutive day on Friday, the authorities have initiated steps to defuse tensions set off by a shooting incident in which 50-year-old cattle-dealer Nayeem Ahmed Shah was killed and two of his colleagues were injured on Wednesday night. The police said that they have detained seven persons for questioning. However, the main accused is absconding.
Bhaderwah, a communally sensitive town, had witnessed incidents of violence by groups of people protesting against the murder of the cattle-dealer and injuring his colleagues by “cow- vigilantes” on Thursday following which the authorities imposed curfew there.
J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik in a statement on Friday condemned “the loss of a precious life in an unfortunate incident” in Bhaderwah. He urged the people not to take law and order in their hand and instead cooperate with the law enforcing agencies. He also advised the prominent leaders of the town to help the police and civil administration in pacifying the protestors and directed the authorities to “spare no efforts in bringing the culprits to justice and ensure that no anti-social element succeed in exploiting the situation and shatter the sense of brotherhood and harmony existing among the people of Bhaderwah since centuries”.