Protests, restrictions cripple life in Kashmir

Protests, restrictions cripple life in Kashmir

Security personnel stop a motorist during curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar on Monday. PTI

Amid the shutdown and restrictions, a tense situation prevailed in Kashmir on Monday, a day after five militants and five civilians were killed in a gun battle and subsequent clashes in southern Shopian district.

Normal life remained crippled in the Valley as separatists had called for a strike and a protest march towards the Civil Secretariat to protest against the civilian killings.

Authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of Srinagar and south Kashmir’s Shopian and Pulwama districts to thwart any protests.

The authorities also suspended mobile Internet services in the Valley, a common government practice, aimed to calm tensions and prevent anti-India demonstrations from being organised. Intra-Kashmir train services remained suspended due to the apprehension of fresh violence.

All examinations and academic activities at Kashmir University were postponed for Monday and Tuesday. An assistant professor from the university, Mohammad Rafi Bhat, was among the five militants killed in Shopian on Sunday.

Authorities also placed separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest while Yasin Malik was taken into preventive detection.

Additional security has been deployed in sensitive areas of Srinagar and other districts. However, police foiled the protest march.

The police foiled a protest march by traders in Srinagar who were demonstrating against civilian killings in Shopian.

The traders, representing Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), assembled at Abi Guzar near the city centre and tried to march towards the civil secretariat.

Reports said despite restrictions, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Sadam Padder, who was Burhan Wani's close associate at his native village Heff in Shopian.

The local media reported that at least 10 militants, including Hizbul commander Zeenta-ul-Islam, made an appearance at the funeral of their fallen commander and offered gun salutes.

Officials said no incident of fresh violence was reported on Monday. However, they said, Shopian and the neighbouring districts of Pulwama and Kulgam remained on the edge as funeral prayers in absentia for slain militants and civilians were organised at several places in south Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the Opposition National Conference held a protest demonstration in Srinagar against the government’s "failure" to stop civilian killings in the Valley. Scores of National Conference leaders and activists took out the rally from the party’s Nawa-e-Subh headquarters here to denounce the killings.

The latest bout of unrest has started affecting the already low inflow of tourist into the Kashmir Valley. People associated with the tourism industry are expressing fears of losing their livelihood if things do not normalise in coming days.