The people of Kashmir had just about relaxed and begun visiting public places on Saturday after 23 days of paralysed social life when the news of a boy’s death due to drowning sparked off violent protests. According to locals, the boy, Faizan Ahmad Guru, was beaten up and then thrown into the river by the police.
Baramulla Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Sheikh Mehmood, however, denied the charge, saying “We are investigating the matter.” To disperse the protestors, cops had to fire in the air, burst smoke shells and resort to cane charging.
Protests died down on Sunday, though curfew was re-imposed on Baramulla and many places, including neighbouring Sopore, old City of Srinagar, Batamaloo, Maisuma and some other parts of the Valley. In the rest of Kashmir, too, social activities were hit after the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference asked people to observe a strike and hold protests till next Saturday.
Police also arrested senior lawyer G N Shaheen booking him under Public Safety Act (PSA), a law under which a person can be jailed up to two years without trial. Efforts were being made to recover the body from the river which flows into Pakistan from Kashmir.
Kashmir had remained shrouded in uncertainty for 23 days following a separatist call against the killing of many youths in police and security forces actions.
On Saturday, however, the hardline faction of Hurriyat had asked people to resume normal work after 2 pm. Following this, people were seen out in large numbers, but their free movement was shortlived with the renewed curfew forcing them indoors again.
The clamping down of curfew came within hours of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s return from New Delhi, where he held talks with leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram about the ongoing crises in the Valley.