Valley tense after youths killed in Army firing

State govt imposes curfew in Srinagar

Valley tense after youths killed in Army firing

A day after the killing of two youth in Army firing in Budgam district, authorities on Tuesday imposed strict restrictions in several parts of the Valley, including Srinagar, to thwart protests.

The situation has arisen at a time when the insurgency-hit state is gearing up for Assembly elections which will be held in five phases from November 25 to December 20.
There is apprehension that the killings could disturb the situation in Kashmir ahead of the polls. Due to the killings, some political parties had to cancel election rallies scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Monday evening, two youths, Faisal Ahmad Bhat and Mehraj-u-din Dar, were killed while two others were injured after soldiers of 53 Rashtriya Rifles fired at their car in Chattergam. A spontaneous shutdown was observed across Kashmir against the killings on Tuesday.

The state government had already imposed curfew-like restrictions in view of Muharram processions in Srinagar on Tuesday. Concertina wires and barricades were set up across the city to stop protests and vehicular movement.

The Army has admitted to firing at a white Maruti car by the personnel at its mobile vehicle check points after it “failed to stop”, and later regretted the deaths.  “The condition of two youth injured in the firing is stable. The families of the injured were immediately contacted and brought to 92 Base Hospital. The Army is also in touch with the bereaved families of the other two,” a defence spokesperson said.

The Army is in touch with the families of the deceased and has assured all assistance to them in this hour of grief, he added.

Separatist and mainstream political parties on Tuesday condemned the killings and demanded time bound and transparent probe into the incident.

Since the Model Code of Conduct is in effect due to the elections, the ruling National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said, “We appeal to the Election Commission to announce a time-bound probe into the incident or allow the state government to investigate and take suitable action based on the findings.”

People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone, while condemning the killings, urged Defence Minister Arun Jaitley to look into the matter and ensure that guilty are punished at the earliest.  “It is high time that the Centre takes a bold decision in such incidents and punishes the culprits which can restore confidence of people of the state,” Lone said. Both hardline and moderate Hurriyat factions have condemned the deaths.

The moderate faction of the Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umar and pro-independence Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front led by Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in view of the prevailing situation in the Valley, curfew has been imposed in several areas of Srinagar on Wednesday.

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